Homily on Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Christian faith is faith in a crucified Christ – But – this does not mean that we are glorifying suffering, because no one wants to suffer and carry his cross if given the choice but rather – today it is that celebration that we exalt the supreme power of God’s love… although in truth, this is the paradox, it is precisely at the heart of a human suffering that we discover a crucified Christ who calls us to enter into the mystery of redemption.

Discovery_of_the_True_CrossThe cross is in truth the center of the evangelium, the glad tidings, the Good News, of the Gospel… that is why the cross is the symbol of our Christian faith. The Resurrection shows the power of God to conquer even death. The Cross shows the power of God to conquer sin; the power of God to conquer hatred and the Cross shows the unconditional power of God’s love and mercy.

God finds man so important that God Himself suffered for man… man means all human persons. The cross is proof of how important we all are to God; how important that we exist and live life to its fullest. God showed it not in words, but in an act of radical self-sacrificing love completely that God became human and suffered to save us.

Today, we celebrate the power of God’s infinite love for us; the awesome truth that God spared nothing to save us, not even his only Son, to rescue us. To God, it was worth it, we are worth the death of his incarnate Son.

There is this beautiful prayer as part in the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hour – the official prayer of the Church prayed by priests, deacons, religious and by many lay people now.

It goes like this: “Lord Jesus, We stood condemned and you came to be judged in our place. Send your saving power on us and when you come in glory bring your mercy to those for whom you were condemned.”

The cross is a reminder of the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. The cross is a reminder of the Gospel of the Lord and the Gospel of Christ demands forgiveness. It demands that we let go of that grudge that we harbor deep in our hearts. The Gospel of Christ demands forgiveness when we have been offended.

The Gospel of Christ demands that we live in our daily lives the condition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Gospel of Christ is not easy, it is tough to say the least. But by putting our hatred to death, we give life to our love and more importantly, by putting our hatred to death, we give life to God’s love.

The news of the barbaric treatment of the prisoners, Christians and Westerners by Islamic militants and terrorists in Iraq and Syria, admittedly, makes our blood boil to think of all the innocent people who were savagely killed; whose lives were destroyed; some were beheaded. Sadly, even in our society, we see often in the news so much violence not only by the terrorists but even by youth who just randomly hit innocent people just for the fun of it.

Of course, we need protect and defend ourselves from terrorists and any form of violence and injustice – But we also need to realize and always remember not to respond to hate with hate because that reaction often can be responsible for people acting in ways that certainly are not the ways of the Lord.

During the Memorial Mass in a packed church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary for the beheaded American reporter, James Foley, Roman Catholic Bishop Peter Libasci of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H. invoked the prayer of St. Francis to implore the gathered not to hate but to heal:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. It is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

To these words, the Bishop added, “Yes, I wish we could all do that. Yes, it is not beyond our capability. It is not impossible. Our Lord lived it. Our most Blessed Mother lived it. Many saints have lived it.”

What gave the Bishop the confidence and hope that living the words of the Prayer of St. Francis to be instrument of peace is really possible?

When Jesus gave his life on the cross, he gave a whole new life for all who would believe in him. His victory over sin and death was complete. He bore every sin—past, present, and future—and took every evil inclination of our hearts and nailed them to his cross.

By his death, he defeated the power of Satan and destroyed death forever. He triumphed over the ways of the world that are opposed to God. He opened up heaven and poured out unlimited grace and mercy.

That is why Jesus said: ‘In this world, you will have troubles… but take courage; do not be afraid, I have overcome the world.”

There is more to this celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross than bold statements of spiritual victory. We also celebrate Jesus’ personal touch upon every person who believes in him; upon each one of us.

Please look at the image of Jesus on the cross. If you cannot see the image from where you sit or stand, then just close your eyes… and now everyone – imagine Jesus telling you these words personally as if you are the only one here:

“My beloved child, heaven has been opened up for you. Because of my cross, you have been forgiven and cleansed of all sin. You are justified and made righteous. You are protected from Satan’s evil schemes. You have been rescued from darkness and the ungodly ways of the world, and you now have power to live a holy life on earth. My child, do you believe this? Place your faith in me, and you will see my victory.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ – You see – Jesus’ triumph is really our triumph. May we surrender our hearts to Jesus, who loves us so deeply, so unconditionally; much more than we can even ever imagine.

May these beautiful, profound and mysterious words of the Gospel, dwell in us and resonate in our hearts and whole being: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

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