MCNEILLIE: The greatest technological achievement ever

March 22, 2022

(File photo by James Ramos/Herald)

No tool, no weapon, no technology has ever accomplished more than the wooden cross of Jesus Christ.

While secular historians will debate about the impact of things like the wheel, the city, the lightbulb, etc., on human society, nothing compares with the cross. For all eternity, Jesus did more when He turned an instrument of torture into an instrument of salvation.

Although I objected to people treating technology as a god in a previous article, I now wish to consider how God actually used technology. As far as we know, Jesus actually used tools to build structures or other household items.

And when it came time to accomplish the Divine work of atonement for sins, reconciliation with God, and the divinization of the elect, God chose something tried-and-true: wood and nails, the same wood and nail arrangement that Romans were using to discourage rebellions and punish criminals.

By willingly mounting the wood of the cross with infinite love, Jesus offered Himself in atonement for our sins, opening the possibility for every human person to enter heaven and share in God’s own divine life.

This is what makes the cross so extraordinary. Given God’s omnipotence, it’s possible for God to have done this without human technology. And given human technology’s inherent limitations, it’s impossible for any technology ever developed to achieve this kind of eternal salvation.

In other words, Jesus chose the cross and used it to do something it should not have been able to do. Jesus chose an instrument of wrath used by others to destroy human life and used it to manifest and confer the plentitude of God’s infinite love.

It’s not unusual for people to “love” technology, such as their car or their coffee maker. For far more surpassing reasons, Catholics adore the cross. We wear it around our necks, place it in our homes, mark our bodies with it.

And on Good Friday, during the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord, we revere the cross in a special way. The cross is processed in, slowly revealed and then reverenced by everyone in the church. It can take a long time, but there are few things more beautiful than watching people pour out, in return, their love for Jesus and His chosen instrument of salvation.

As St. Paul says, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (Gal 6:14).

Whether it be through prayer, such as the stations of the cross, a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the True Cross in Dickinson, or through the Good Friday Liturgy, this Lent, I pray that we all come to appreciate the cross of Christ in a deeper way. 

Father Richard McNeillie is the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Vocations.