As a kid my folks took us to the Catholic Church on occasion – you know, the Christmas and Easter type of thing and a time or two in between. As we entered the “sanctuary” or entered the pew we would make the sign of the cross. I suppose they told me the why of that or I heard it in catechism, but I don’t recall. Nevertheless, I’m seeing the sign of the cross more and more these days.
The current trend, especially among athletes, is to make the sign of the cross and the point one finger in the air. Others make the sign of the cross, touch their lips, and then point one finger in the air. Others make the sign and simply touch their lips. There is the occasional pounding of the chest and the a glance upward and the index finger pointing in the air. Heck, I even saw a man do it on “Minute to Win It” one night while trying to wind a million dollars doing a stunt. He even commented to the host that he had “help from above” and was feeling good about his chances! Of course, he didn’t win the million, but repeated the sign anyway.
I’m not sure what all of this is about. Maybe it’s a person’s way of saying they believe in God or subscribe to the Christian faith. Perhaps it’s simply a memorial gesture to a loved one lost. Or something they saw an idol of theirs do and they liked it.
I reckon there may be some value in it all, but I’m hard pressed to figure out what it is. Perhaps it’s because I’m not that demonstrative when it comes to my faith. Or simply not that demonstrable period. It may be that exposing ones’ self that way may turn around to bite you when an inappropriate response is made during a pressure situation. You know, the orange syndrome may override the gesture. What’s the orange syndrome you ask?
When you squeeze an orange what comes out? Your guessed it, orange juice. Why? Because that’s what’s in it! I may do all the right things, say all the right things and make all the gestures, but when I get squeezed, if venomous anger comes out, that’s the true self. I may say loving things to my kids, but if they get the best of me and I lash out with harsh words or physical action, it’s simply an indication of what’s in me. The real me, not what I want others to see. We may fool a lot of people, but we’ll never fool ourselves. We know the reality. I can make all the “gestures” I want to deflect the reality, but that doesn’t change the reality.
The cross, whether I make its symbol on my body or wear it around my neck, means two things to me: sacrifice and love. When I take up my cross and follow Christ is means I sacrifice myself and yield to God. When I succumb to the cross I succumb to God’s love and the ultimate Sacrifice of Christ to demonstrate that love. Those are not trivial matters.