In the beginning, God created all things, but the human being remained unfinished—stunted in the first Adam's apostasy. Since God purposed that our very nature be found in Divine likeness which is to love perfectly in freedom, God is thus limited by our willing participation in becoming what we are created to be. The Word became incarnate, yet the fully human Jesus remained in unbroken union with the full Divinity of His Father even through accusations, betrayal, injustice and a ridiculed death. "No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (Jn. 10:18). This voluntary downward movement into death is the Cross. He was speaking of the creation of humankind when our Lord proclaimed from his cross, "it is finished" (Jn. 19:30).
To the measure that we take up our own cross then, we are acting with Grace in synergistic self-becoming. Through the cross we are working out our own salvation; we are becoming fully human. "Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matt. 16:25). This is the source of the early Christians' eagerness to embrace martyrdom: "I am God's wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread of Christ... when I shall have arrived there, I shall become a human being (anthropos). Allow me to follow the example of the passion of my God." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, 2nd century martyr).
To take up the sword in violence toward enemies is to reject our very self. We are all of us stunted creations in the apostasy of the first Adam, yet called to maturity through voluntary death and rebirth into the second Adam. Violence is therefore a rejection and obstruction of God's creative work. No matter how terrible the cross before us, we may freely take it up with the same joy as the first martyrs, for God longs to complete his creative work in us too.