It is sometimes asked why it is that we in our churches, on our walls, or on necklaces have the body of Christ on the Cross. St. Paul addresses this in the first letter to the Corinthians.
22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (1 Corinthians 1:22-23)
1When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)
Through Jesus’ voluntary humiliation on the cross-his crucifixion the power of God is revealed. It is through the crucifixion that the Son has conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus "the power of God and the wisdom of God”. (CCC 272).
Additionally, through the crucifixion we remind ourselves of the suffering that Jesus endured for us on the cross, for our salvation. We remember that Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to endure this horrific suffering for us-for you! For me! It was his suffering and death (along with his resurrection) which redeemed humanity. It was Jesus dying on the cross that saved us, not merely the cross itself.
The crucifix reminds us that at times we too will endure suffering and when we do to we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. (Matt.16:24-27). It reminds us that we contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting ourselves to the Passion and death of Christ, as we share our afflictions with his as his body, the church (CCC 1499).
24 I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.(Colossians 1:24).
We should also consider what St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians.
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified!
As we read this we note that this letter was written decades after the actual crucifixion of Jesus. This suggests that Jesus Christ “exhibited as crucified” must have been an image, of the body of Jesus on the cross-a crucifix.