The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Scripture Readings:  Numbers 21:4-9; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17


In his recent book, “Jesus, A Pilgrimage,”Jesuit Priest James Martin tells the story of Doris, a hospital volunteer he met while at a hospital in Massachusetts.  During a discussion with hospital personnel, Doris, who was confined to a wheelchair, shared her experience. Rather than complain about her limitations her condition imposed on her or the difficulties of getting around the city in wheelchair, she expressed gratitude.  Though she had once seen her wheelchair as her Cross, she now looked upon it as her resurrection.     Doris, shared, “my wheelchair helps me get around.  Without it, I would not be able to do anything.  Life would be so dull without it.”

Maybe we know someone like Doris… Maybe we are like Doris…

Doris, in her wisdom, revealed a deep truth about the mystery of the Cross on this Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

What appears in our lives as a punishment, a burden, an affliction, carries within it the seeds of new life.

When we accept our suffering, bear it patiently, and even embrace it, we find new meaning in it.  Suffering borne in love transforms us.

The Cross is at the center of everything we do as Christians.  We begin our prayers by marking ourselves with the sign of the Cross: in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  We began this Mass with the sign of the Cross, as we do at every Mass.

A Cross is a prominent feature in every Church.

Our processions are led by a Cross.

The Cross is the symbol of everything we believe and everything we are as followers of Jesus Christ.

As we know, in the time of Jesus the Cross was a means of torture.

However, Jesus transforms this meaning.  For Jesus the Cross became the means for salvation for all the world.

The Cross of course is ultimately a symbol of great love of God for us.  The Cross is a constant reminder of God’s love for you and me.

A few weeks ago while on vacation, I decided to take a walk of some 6,300 yards (that’s the length of a golf course).  I joined up with a few other people and at one point it surfaced that I was a Priest, but our conversation did not take the religious conversation street. However, as we were to go our separate ways one man shared how powerful a reminder the Cross was for him.

He shared that the Cross is a powerful reminder of God’s love.  That the Cross is a reminder that God died for ME, and would have even if I was the only person to have ever lived.

He continued, “I live my life each day in ways that are a source of hope, of joy, of discovery, of life, of resurrection for others and for myself.”

Like Jesus, may the Crosses of our lives not be seen as limiting but the means to living lives to the fullest.  May the Crosses of our lives be the vehicles for discovering the meaning and purpose of the journey of life that God has set us on.

Like Jesus who embraced the Cross, may we too choose daily to actively embrace the Cross of Christ by modeling our lives after the generous, life-giving love of the Lord.