The Stumbling Block of the Cross…
The cross is a stumbling block for those who do not believe:
As for me, brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. –Galatians 5:11, NAB
It may be hard to imagine the cross as a stumbling block in anyone’s path, but for anyone trying to find salvation without it, the truth of the cross is constantly getting in their way. So if Paul and the rest of the Church decided to preach a different path to salvation, the cross would no longer be an obstacle.
This is not the only time that St. Paul refers to the cross as a stumbling block. In 1 Corinthians, he states:
For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. -1 Corinthians 1:22-24, NAB
The verse from 1 Corinthians may shed light on why it was seen as a stumbling block for the Jews. The Jews were looking for the Messiah to come showing the power of God and free them from the oppression of the Romans. For centuries, the Jews sought salvation by their ability to live up to the Law, and now, Christ changed all of that. They were not ready to accept this reality, and the stumbling block of the cross only got in their way.
It seems like little has changed in 2,000 years. Mankind is still trying to earn salvation. Society seems to be drifting farther and farther from God. Religion is seen as a crutch for the weak. But today, instead of trying to earn salvation through Jewish Law, many are trying to explain our existence in a science rooted apart from God. Like the Greeks, modern day scientists are seeking salvation through wisdom.
Science has made great advances over the centuries, but for those looking to use science to disprove God, the stumbling block of the cross remains in their way. If anything, science serves to show the beauty of God’s creation even more. Science cannot provide us all of the answers. There are large gaps in scientific theory, and only our faith in God can provide the answers to fill them.
For those who choose to reject Christ, the stumbling block of the cross will remain in their way. The only way to remove it as an obstacle is to take up the cross and carry it with us. Only by accepting Christ into our hearts will we find the path that leads to salvation.