Two nights ago, my husband asked me to help him put something in the garage. It was there—out of earshot of our daughter—that he told me that he is coughing up blood again. His new medication is not working as we had hoped it would and he needs to go back on prednisone until we can figure out what to do about his chronic illness moving forward. We both know another flare up means more unseen irreparable damage to his lungs. There we stood on a dark, cold Advent night, the Cross we carry as a family grows heavy once more.
The Cross casts its long shadow over the manger where the Christ-child lays. The same is true for each one of us, even in the midst of the joys and festivities of the season. This reality is more tangible for all of us at different periods in our lives. We come face-to-face with the Cross when we are called to shoulder the burdens of chronic or terminal illness, the loss of a loved one, unemployment, loneliness, poverty, infertility, or any other affliction. It is in those times when we see that Christmas wouldn’t matter without the Paschal Mystery.The Manger and the Cross Point to the Same Truth