A friend some years ago told me he didn’t like Catholic churches, because the statues and images -- and especially the crucifix -- made him uncomfortable.
In most Catholic churches, a crucifix is prominent above the altar. Some are rather restrained, while others depict the blood and brokenness of the crucified Christ. Many other denominations display only a cross -- if that.
The crucifix can make people uncomfortable, even squeamish. The bloodied, mangled, wounded body of Christ does not make for easy contemplation.
In displaying only a cross, some churches focus on the resurrection. But without the cross, there is no resurrection. Without the willing sacrifice -- the public condemnation and humiliation, the agony and death -- there is no redemption.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). In order to save us, God chose to become one of us, and One with us through communion.
Catholic churches display statues of saints, angels, and the Holy Family, much as we decorate our homes with photos of our loved ones. These images remind us of the great love our Creator has for us, inspire us to deeper faith.
What greater image of love than the crucifix, which graphically shows us the incredible, indescribable depth of love of the God who so loves us that He gave His only Son to live and die for our salvation?