THURSDAY, TWENTY THIRD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Nm 21:4-9; Ps 78:1-2,34-38; Phil 2:6-11; Jn 3:13-17
THE CROSS IS THE PLACE OF GLORY
The Cross is the sign of the Christian. It is the sign and symbol of God’s love for humanity. Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross and thereby redeemed the whole of humanity. We honour the Holy Cross, for on it Christ died out of love for us and by his death on the Cross gave life to the world. The Cross of Christ is the instrument of love through which God demonstrated his love and saved us. The Cross which has become the symbol of Christians was in fact a symbol of shame and disgrace the Jews; since it was a means to punish criminals and outlaws. However, with Jesus, this symbol was changed to the symbol of victory and Salvation. The cross is now symbol of God’s love and life. Our faith tells us that through the cross our God sacrificed Himself for us.
Today we celebrate the feast of ‘The Exaltation of the Holy Cross’. Exaltation means triumph or glory. We often say there is an Easter after Good Friday, Resurrection after death, Joy after suffering. But the scripture and especially St Paul reveal to us that Good Friday is itself the glory of Easter. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “The Cross is the place of glory – the place of true contact and union with God, who is love (Cfr. Ratzinger, “Jesus of Nazareth”).
The feast is an invitation to gaze at the Cross. Jesus said “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness the Son of Man be lifted up” (Jn 3:14). The first reading tells us how the people because of their sin are struck with fiery serpents and faced death. However, like every time God in his infinite mercy intervenes and asks Moses to prepare a bronze serpent on the cross, the sight of which would save them. Here God gives a glimpse of what would be the greatest event in the history of mankind – the event of salvation. All those who gazed at the bronze serpent which was raised by Moses saved their life. Who should look upon the cross of Jesus Christ? What would be the result of gazing at the glory of Cross? Here follows a few results of raising one’s heart to the cross on Calvary.
It is a remembrance of how much God loves you- God so loved the world that he sacrificed his only son for their salvation (Jn 3:16). There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (Jn 15:13). The Father loves me as he loves his Only Son. The Son loves me more than his own life.
It brings a feeling of Peace- because through the blood Jesus shed on the Cross my sins are washed away. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins (1 Jn 1:7). His blood was paid as the ransom for my sins (Mk 10:45). The awareness that I am forgiven of my original sin and personal sins, brings internal peace. It is the peace of reconciliation with the Father. On his Cross he has taken your vulnerability, your nakedness, your illness, your hunger and your shame.
The Cross is the symbol of new life- The Cross gives us an invitation to crucify our old self and put on the new man, Jesus Christ. Paul says: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
The Cross reminds us the power of God that surpasses death. We remember that even death is not the final reality of life. We experience how those who are in Christ can pass to life through death, how life comes again through death: yes we can gain life by dying for God.
Gaze of Jesus from the Cross- We celebrate this feast also to meditate upon how Jesus is gazing upon me from the Cross.
Who could imagine that for our salvation God would sacrifice his only Son on the cross but still “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son…”. To defeat sin, Satan, suffering and death; the Cross was the perfect symbol in the sight of God. God transformed the very wood of the cross which was the bed of death into the door of eternal life. Today, we are called upon to reflect and exalt the Cross which became an instrument for opening the door of our salvation. Also, let us remember that all of us have to carry our Cross and walk on the path of salvation; only then the wood of the Cross that we carry will be fashioned into the door that leads us into eternal life.
Response: Never forget the deeds of the Lord!
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