Mattia Preti – The crucifixion of St Andrew – oil on canvas painting, circa 1651
The message of the cross is complete absurdity to those who are headed for ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation it is the power of God. Scripture says,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and thwart the cleverness of the clever.”
Where is the wise man to be found? Where the scribe? Where is the master of worldly argument? Has not God turned the wisdom of this world into folly?
Since in God’s wisdom the world did not come to know him through “wisdom,” it pleased God to save those who believe through the absurdity of the preaching of the gospel. Yes, Jews demand “signs” and Greeks look for “wisdom,” but we preach Christ crucified‚ a stumbling block to Jews, and an absurdity to Gentiles; but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s folly is wiser than men, and his weakness more powerful than men.
Brothers, you are among those called. Consider your situation. Not many of you are wise, as men account wisdom; not many are influential; and surely not many are well-born. God chose those whom the world considers absurd to shame the wise; he singled out the weak of this world to shame the strong. He chose the world’s lowborn and despised, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who were something; so that mankind can do no boasting before God. God it is who has given you life in Christ Jesus. He has made him our wisdom and also our justice, our sanctification, and our redemption. This is just as you find it written, “Let him who would boast, boast in the Lord.”
As for myself, brothers, when I came to you I did not come proclaiming God’s testimony with any particular eloquence or “wisdom.” No, I determined that while I was with you I would speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. When I came among you it was in weakness and fear, and with much trepidation. My message and my preaching had none of the persuasive force of “wise” argumentation, but the convincing power of the Spirit. As a consequence, your faith rests not on the wisdom of men but on the power of God.
1 Cor 1:18–2:5
(First reading from today’s Office of readings in the Liturgy of the Hours).
The bravery and spiritual strength with which the apostles approached their martyrdom is not only admirable but an example to follow for Christians through history to our present day. We may not suffer martyrdom with death on a cross, but certainly each of us can die to ourselves daily and accept our crosses, the daily slights and problems and issues that arise, accept them with the same grace and example of St. Andrew and the other martyred apostles.