Lift High The Cross! ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Feast of The Exaltation of The Holy Cross The Cross of Love and Salvation.

Reading I: Nm 21:4b-9

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

Reading II: Phil 2:6-11

Gospel: Jn 3:13-17

Liturgical colour: Red.

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy  Cross.

Today’s feast is the time that the church commemorates the event of our dear Lord and Saviour, Christ’s Paschal Mystery, that very event in which God, in Christ, accepted the human experiences of the worst kind of suffering, of torture and of sacrificial death, and in which he allowed himself to be at one totally with us in our humanness.

The first Scripture for today of Nm 21:4b-9,  shows us of the enormous power of the cross to effect healing.

In this reading, we hear how Moses was instructed to create the image of a bronze serpent and to mount it upon a pole. Those who looked upon this pole were then healed from all the effects of the snake venom.

 What the cross affects is our healing—it is not simply only from such as in the venom of snakes  that are healed by the cross, but the power of sin and death itself over us!

In our second Scripture reading of Phil 2:6-11, we hear about how Our Lord Jesus accepted death on the cross—not because he deserved any  extremely horrifying torture,  indeed he deserved no punishment whatsoever, but our Lord Christ accepted it so that he could use it as a means by which he would unite his divine life to us as humans, he accepted it in all that would befall him, even unto suffering, torture and even to his death.

For us as Christians, because of God in Christ, suffering and death are not just sad, hurtful, and inevitable facts of being human; they indeed became, in Christ, the only route of access to God and to our Salvation. Even in these experiences, God is ever present with us and  is ever working through and for us, and even through these experiences, God can accomplish his will which is to save and to redeem.

In the Gospel reading today of Jn 3:13-17,  Our Lord Jesus tells us that he has not come into this world to condemn humanity but to reconcile us back to God.

Christ used the cross to accomplish exactly this!

The cross shows to us in the most terrifyingly of ways, the deepest and darkest side of our human nature. Christ did not deserve any of the horrendous actions that were done to him prior to, and also when he was upon the cross. It was us in our dark human nature, that imposed the cross upon him out of total evil cruelty. What we deserve for the cross is nothing short of God’s worst wrath— The fact is that simple! The cross, which could never be the end of Christ, should have meant the end of us if we had been given what our human actions truly had deserved.

But our end, our destruction, is not what the cross was intended to accomplish, as Instead, Christ showed the willingness of God to forgive us in the most astounding and wonderous way that was possible.

The cross reveals to us that the great covenant that God makes with us in Christ offers us forgiveness and salvation. This grace of God is certainly not deserved by any of us, but it is nevertheless given out of the love that God has for each and every single one of us. The love that God our Father, truly has for all his children whom he created. The cross is the ultimate symbol of the sacrifice of God in Christ, this ultimate and pure Love which is our salvation. 

We can receive this grace in the partaking of the Blessed Sacrament—and also in all the sacraments of the Church. Once we have received this for ourselves, Christ asks that all we have been graciously given by his sacrifice for us, we then instill the same within our relationships with all our brothers and sisters in Christ, and within our total existence —imitating what Christ has done for us in the love and forgiveness that we are to share with one another.

All that horrendous suffering and torture, then death that  Our Lord Christ went through upon that cross, taking on all the sins and burdens of all  humankind,  to give salvation for every single one of us, for the people who lived in Jesus’ time, for us in our present time, and for all peoples yet to be born. This Cross was and is still, the ultimate sacrifice of Christ’s Love and Salvation which was given freely for all.

Let us pray:

O God, who willed that Your Only Begotten Son should undergo the Cross to save the human race, grant, we pray, that we, who have known his mystery on earth, may merit the grace of his redemption in heaven.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.