Exaltation of the Holy Cross
When a boy was lost, a policeman asked him the name of the street on which he lived. The policeman named one street after another, and none of them was boy’s street. Then the policeman noticed a high church tower and he asked the boy, “Do you live anywhere near there?” “Yes,” the boy said. “Take me to the cross. I can find my way home from there.”
By looking at the cross, we find our home: God’s self-sacrificing love. The cross directs us to the kingdom of God, our true home – which we can only reach by following Jesus. The cross shows us the way Jesus took – the way of self-giving love. We can get to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection only when we take up our cross and follow him.
We celebrate today the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross – also called us the Triumph of the Cross. We are too familiar with the crucifix that we are in danger of forgetting that in the beginning it was not a mere ornament or gesture but a most efficient form of capital punishment. It is tantamount to this: God in the gas chamber…God strapped into the electric chair…God injected with the lethal chemical.
Having said that, the obvious question now is: Why are we celebrating the Triumph of the Cross? Triumph means victory; it is something we glory in. Where is the triumph in capital punishment or in crucifixion? Ano ang dapat ipagdiwang sa nakasisindak na krus? Well, for us believers, there is much more to the cross of Christ than just an instrument of punishment or a symbol of death. The cross is the supreme expression of God’s self-giving love.
We cannot deny that at one time or another, in one way or another, we have tried our best to distance ourselves from the cross. Maging ito man ay ang krus na humihingi ng mas maraming sakripisyo, o krus na nagbibigay ng mas mabigat na pasanin, o krus na nag-aatang ng mas malaking responsiblidad. Maging ito man ay ang krus ng pagsisikap na ibigin ang di-kaibig-ibig o ang krus ng pagtataguyod sa pamilya sa gitna ng kahirapan, o ang krus ng karamdaman, pangungulila, pagdadalamhati, o ang krus ng pagbibigay sa panahong may sarili tayong pangangailangan, o ang krus ng pagpapatawad sa kapwang paulit-ulit na nagkakasala. Ilan ito sa mga krus na nilalayuan natin – kaya naman naliligaw tayo. We need to find our way home through the cross.
As we celebrate the Triumph of the Cross, we need to ask ourselves: How can we make Christ’s cross triumph every day, in us and through us?
When our community is beset by indifference or a lack of concern, or when it is full of strife – tensions, conflicts and quarrels – we have to let the cross triumph in us and through us by taking the initiative towards meaningful encounters and by allowing ourselves to be instruments of dialogue, understanding and reconciliation in our Christian neighborhood. Ang pagpapasan ng ganitong krus ang muling magbubuklod sa komunidad at magpapalakas sa kapatiran natin.
When our friendship is afflicted with bitter hurts and pains, or when marriage is rocked by betrayal and infidelity, we have to let the cross triumph in us and through us by doing the hardest but the liberating thing to do: to forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven times. Ang pagpapasan ng ganitong krus ang maghihilom sa mga sugat natin at magpapatibay sa mga relationships natin.
When our family is threatened by materialism and secularism, or when it is bombarded with distorted values of consumerism, we have to let the cross triumph in us and through us by holding fast to the Christian values of simplicity, poverty, detachment from worldly things, and trust in the divine providence. Ang pagpapasan ng ganitong krus ang magpapaalala sa pamilya natin: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you besides.”
Christ’s whole life was an active expression of love for others. It is this love that Christ carried to his cross. It is this love that constitutes the triumph of the cross.
As Christ’s disciples, we must love the way he loves…We must love all the way…all the way to the cross. Just as the cross became the definition of Christ’s love – “Love is Christ on the cross” – may our own cross be the supreme expression of our self-giving love.