"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." — 1 Cor 1:18 (NIV)
My dear brothers and sisters, for those who believe in God, the cross is salvation; but to this world, the cross is foolishness. In the church at Corinth, there was a conflict between the Jews and the Greeks about the cross. For the Jews, the cross was a stumbling block and for the Greeks, the cross was foolish. But Paul had a very beautiful explanation in answering the question of the Greeks and Jews about the meaning of the cross. These two groups of people had a big influence.
The Greeks sought wisdom. They were famous for their philosophers and already had a very advanced intellect in their time by developing reasons and logical thoughts. Why was the cross for the Greeks foolish? The cross in their view was a curse or the end of the journey for a person who had severe punishment. So it didn't make sense to them that the cross was the way of Salvation from God.
Likewise, for the Jews, the cross of Jesus was considered a scandal. This term appears by the verdict against Jesus before Pilate. Jesus had to die because he called himself the Son of God. Jesus was considered to have committed blasphemy so that among the Jews, he was hated by the priests, scribes, and Jewish religious figures.
From Paul's explanation of the cross, it was clear that the thinking of the Greeks and Jews was shallow and wrong. The declaration of the cross of Christ was the wisdom of God and the power of God in saving mankind. Even for Paul himself the wisdom of the world had made man ignorant of God. The foolishness of God is greater than the wisdom of man, or the weak of God is stronger than man.
The way of the cross is the way God used to save the mankind. Man is a sinner and deserves the death penalty for sin. But Christ justified man through His sacrifice on the cross, so that man was justified as a gift of God in Christ. Sinners are slaves to sin, so Christ redeemed us from slavery to sin and we belong to Christ. Furthermore, the cross of Christ declares that the God we know and worship is not only a distant (transcendent) God but also a near (immanent) God, who came down to earth to redeem us.
Brothers and sisters, the cross of Christ is the power and wisdom of God. Therefore, we should not reject Christ and his cross, but we should make him and his cross a source of wisdom and strength in our lives. Amen.
Reflection on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 by Fr. Risco Batbual, SVD
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