The Holy Cross ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

The Exaltation of The Holy Cross.

Reading 1: NM 21:4B-9

Responsorial Psalm: PS 78:1BC-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

Reading II: PHIL 2:6-11

Gospel: JN 3:13-17

Today, we come together to commemorate the feast of the exaltation of the Holy Cross. We celebrate this each year on September 14th of each year.

Today’s Feast day was originally established to celebrate the anniversary of the finding of the True Cross of Jesus in Jerusalem on September 14, 326 by St.Helen, who was the mother of the Emperor Constantine.

The cross is an amazing and wonderful symbol of contradiction.  The cross has become the most recognized religious symbol in the world, it is the ultimate symbol of God’s love, forgiveness and redemption. In the ancient Roman world, historically, the cross was the symbol of degradation, suffering and death. Death by crucifixion was extremely brutal. Now the cross is the greatest symbol of God’s love and of our salvation.

Today the Church gives all of us the place at which we ought we ought to stand – by the cross of Our  Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

And from there we can move not only the earth, but heaven as well!

From the cross of our Lord, the gates of hell are shattered, the devil and his angels are disarmed of their power and death is destroyed.

From the cross- the people who dwell in darkness see a great light – the glory of God shining forth from the face of Christ;

From the cross – a host of captives are set free and the ancient gates are lifted up high.

From the cross- sin will be pried from our hearts and our minds lifted to heaven.

So must the son of man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life (Jn: 3:15)

In our first reading today, we get the description of how God healed the complaining Israelites through the brazen serpant. In the second reading, we see how St.Paul explains how God Exalted Jesus for his self-emptying on the cross for our salvation by granting him resurrection.

In todays Gospel, answering the question raised by Nicodemus, Jesus explains how he is going to save the world by his death on the cross. Jesus cites the example of how brazen serpant raised by Moses representing the healing power of God, saved the Israelites in the desert from snake bites.

So comparing his cross to the serpent of bronze lifted up by Moses, Jesus tells us that those who are bitten by the serpant of sin can be healed by a look of faith to the ever forgiving cross.

At the cross of Jesus there were three men looking at him: two sinners, the criminals hanging in crucifixion near him, and an unbeliever, the centurion. One of the criminals asked him: “ Aren’t you the Messiah? Then save yourself and us. “ But the other one rebuked him: “ Have you no fear of God, seeing you are under the same sentence? We deserve it after all. We are paying the price for what we’ve done, but this man has done nothing wrong”. The he said: “Jesus remember me when you enter upon your reign”. And Jesus replied this: I assure you; this day you will be with me in paradise”. Notice the two looks: the look of the impenitent and the look of the repentant. The third one who looked at Jesus on the cross was the centurion. We read in the Gospel according to saint mark: “ the centurion who stood guard over him, on seeing the manner of death, declared: ‘clearly this man was the son of God” ( Mk 15:39)

The feast of the exaltation of the cross provides us with the opportunity to remember, in a special way, Jesus’ passion, and the significance of his death for us upon the cross. Through the Holy Cross, God has entered into our suffering. The good news is that when we suffer those earthly trials and crosses from which it is humanly impossible for us to escape, Jesus our Lord is intimately there with us in the midst of all our sufferings.

The cross is the hope of Christians. The cross is the staff for the lame. The cross is the deposing of the proud. The cross is the hope of those who despair.  The cross is the haven for the bestormed. The cross is comfort for those who mourn. The cross is the glory of mankind. The cross is the crown of elders. The cross is the light for those who sit in darkness. The cross is freedom for slaves, it is the wisdom for the ignorant. The preaching of prophets and the joy of priests. The foundation of the church. The cleansing of the lepers, the rehabilitation of the enfeebled. Bread for hungry , a fountain for the worst thirst.

How splendid and wonderful is the cross of Christ!

It brings life, not death

Light, not darkness.

Paradise, not its loss.

It is the wood on which Our Lord and Saviour, like the greatest of warriors, was wounded in hands and feet and side , but who thereby healed all our wounds.

A tree has destroyed us, a tree now brought us life.

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