So when we bend and venerate the cross on Good Friday, there are several things that I think we must be clear, if John’s gospel is right, that we are not doing. We are not assenting to ongoing injustice, violence, or abuse in our world: that would be negligence or cowardice. We are not voting for a passive acceptance of the misuse of power: that would be masochism. We are not saying that human agony and suffering are alright after all, or that by some magic of mind-over-matter I can grit my teeth and see them through to the other side: that would be stoicism.
No, when we make this bodily obeisance each year, we are saying in the only way we can – not just with our mind (which is often confused and doubting) but with our whole being – that all our hope resides in something already done, done by the God/Man on a dark hour long ago and once for all. Often we cannot feel it for the darkness, let alone see it. Often we are overwhelmed by our own pain and that of others, our own sin and that of others. But God has done what only God can do, and in the eye of the storm there is already that still place of triumph which John calls Jesus’s cosmic “glory,” and which he holds out to us also. It is the “finishing” that Jesus does, which is not just a finishing but the reaching of the goal.