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Power of the Cross

Power of the Cross

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Published by Amy Welborn
The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel.
The Power of the Cross by Michael Dubruiel.

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Published by: Amy Welborn on Apr 06, 2012
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The Cross of Christ Restores...
The Dignity of Work

And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done.
. . . So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on
it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.

GENESIS2:2–3

“If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;
but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the
works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in
me and I am in the Father.” Again they tried to arrest him, but
he escaped from their hands.

JOHN10:37–39

I spent five rather fruitless years teaching high-school theology.
Early on it was clear to me and to my students that this wasn’t
what God wanted me to do. However, they weren’t quite so
adept at figuring out their own vocations. When I asked a stu-
dent what he wanted to do with his life, he would rattle off the
same tired list of professions as his classmates. They would do
whatever made the most money.
As I threw him out of class one day, one of my students yelled
as he headed to the principal’s office, “Who needs this? Mr.
Steinbrenner is a good friend of my dad. He told me that he’d
give me a job.”

Yes, he was talking about that Mr. Steinbrenner.

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The saddest thing about my teaching experience was my
inability to communicate to my students the fact that all the
money in the world could not make them happy. I told them of
the miserable rich people that I had known, who hated their
work and counted the minutes to retirement. The world is full of
human beings who suffer under the curse of Adam: “Cursed is the
ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your
life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall
eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat
bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken;
you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:17–19).
The cross of Christ redeems us and restores the dignity of
work that God intended from the beginning when he created us.
In John’s Gospel, when Jesus refers to his words and miracles he
has a simple name for them, “the works of the Father.” Why do
the healings of Jesus seem so miraculous to us? Because we live
in a world where everything is degenerating—where “thorns and
thistles” spring up, no matter how long we toil.
Jesus shows us a different path: effortless production, where
“the barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is
forlorn” (1 Samuel 2:5); where those who do not sow, reap
nonetheless; and where the fishermen let down their nets, and at
his word cannot contain their catch. This is the fruitful, fulfill-
ing kingdom of God.

God’s Purpose for You

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola were developed
from his own experiences. He was sure that being a knight would
bring him happiness. However, his career as a knight was short-
lived. Ignatius was felled by a cannonball and had to recuperate.
While recovering, Ignatius read the lives of the saints, and
found that when he read these stories, he was left with a feeling

Week Five: The Cross of Christ Restores . . .

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of contentment. When he read other, more worldly works, he felt
agitated. Ignatius concluded that when we are where God wants
us to be, we are at peace no matter how much conflict we face.
Jesus is the perfect example of this. He did the work of God,
even when his life was threatened. He knew nothing would hap-
pen to him until the appointed time, and so he moved about
Israel with a deep sense of trust in God
What keeps us from experiencing the fruitfulness of the work
that God has for us? Ignatius called these things “disordered
attachments,” referring to anything
that rivals a part of us that is meant
for God: money, sex, pleasure, or
anything else. When people make
decisions about their lives based
solely on a disordered attachment,
they can expect a ton of “thorns and thistles” in their lives. The
beauty of the rose deceives until the thorns dig into flesh.
Ignatius often reflected on the state of the world and the
effects of sin, as contrasted with the Incarnation, God becoming
one of us and saving us from our plight. Who will we follow,
Christ with his victorious cross or fallen humanity?
The first step to ridding ourselves of disordered attachments
is to realize what those attachments might be. Whenever we have
a tendency to rationalize that something is “holy,” “untouchable,”
or “indispensable”—it is a pretty good indication that a disor-
dered attachment is at the root. Only God is our holy and
untouchable source of life. Giving anything else such a high pri-
ority is perpetuating a lie.
Next, we might look at our priorities in life. If you are read-
ing this, it is evident that you care about your spiritual life. How-
ever, even spiritual people run the risk of making an ideology into
a god. The people that Jesus argued with the most were spiritual
people, especially those who considered themselves so good and

188

The Power of the Cross

Who will we fol-
low, Christ with his
victorious cross or fallen
humanity into its grave?

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holy that they did not recognize the God they claimed to serve,
even when he appeared right in front of them. The Pharisees
stand as a great witness that we must always be vigilant in search-
ing for God, no matter how “spiritual” we become. God should
be our priority; not our idea of who God is, but rather God as
he really is.

St. Benedict spoke of the “Opus Dei,” the work of God that
was the priority of the monk. In this context, he was referring to
prayer. Prayer keeps us hooked into our Source of life. It should
be more important to us than food or sleep—again because our
very life depends upon it. Jesus came to redeem us, to overturn
the curses that befell humanity because of original sin. By tak-
ing up our cross and following Christ even in our work, we can
share in the “works of the Father” and be miracle workers in the
eyes of the fallen world.

Steps to Take as You Follow Christ

Ask—Am I doing what God wants me to do?

Seek—To pray, to put God first in all things, in every aspect of
your life. Ask God to bless your home and your work, making
all that you do fruitful.

Knock—Meditate on Genesis 2:2–3. How do you rest from
your work? How do you sanctify the Sabbath in your life? Do you
trust enough in God’s providence to take a day off? Spend some
time reflecting on Jesus’ Sabbath rest on Holy Saturday and what
it could mean for you.

Transform Your Life—Allow the cross of Christ to restore the
dignity of your work. This may not involve leaving behind your
job, even if you took that job for the wrong reasons. God can
transform anything into good. So what matters is what your

Week Five: The Cross of Christ Restores . . .

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motivation is in your work: are you building up the kingdom of
God or are you trying to build your own kingdom?

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The Power of the Cross

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