Exaltation of the Holy Cross
The cross is the symbol of Christianity. Crosses mark our churches and adorn our altars. We begin and end our prayers with the sign of the cross. At the end of every Eucharistic celebration the priest blesses the people by moving his right hand in the form of the a cross. The cross is also used as an accessory or jewelry or fashion statement.
We celebrate today the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross – also termed as 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. So, non-believers could ask: “What is there to be ‘exalted’ about capital punishment or about crucifixion?” That is why the title of today’s feast contains a glaring oxymoron, an enormous paradox: The Triumph of the Cross???
Triumph means victory; it is something we glory in. But, again, where is the triumph in capital punishment or in crucifixion? 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 Christ’s forgiving love. It is the shining forth of God’s love. Christ did not die a passive victim of evil; he was active in love till his death. In fact, his 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.
How can we make this feast of the Triumph of the Cross more relevant to our lives? How can we make Christ’s cross triumph every day, in us and through us? When we carry the cross of service by getting out of our comfort zone to be a part of a parish ministry and practice stewardship, or to look after the needs of others, especially of the poor… When we carry the cross of forgiveness by making a decision to let go of our bitter hurts and pains, free ourselves from the past, and forgive those who have hurt us from the heart… When we carry the cross of selflessness by forgetting ourselves – getting rid of our selfish interests or going beyond our ambition – to participate in Christ’s mission of proclaiming the Good News… When we get personally involved in the life and mission of the Church, particularly by being part of our Parish Mission Partnership… Every time we do that and make that as an expression of our love, we let Christ’s cross triumph in us and through us.
In the gospel two Sundays ago, we heard Jesus telling us: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Ipinapaalala sa atin ni Hesus na ang dapat na maging identity natin bilang mga tagasunod o alagad niya ay ang KRUS. It is the cross we must carry as we strive to have better relationships with others – including those who are difficult to relate with. The cross we must carry as we bring our family closer to one another and closer to God. The cross we must carry as we serve our community by selflessly sharing our time, talent, and treasure.
Ang daan ni Kristo, ang paraan ng pag-ibig, ay landas ng pag-aalay o pagbabahagi ng sarili at pagiging bukas-palad. Bagaman gusto rin din naman nating tahakin ang daan ng krus at ang landas ng pag-ibig ni Kristo, subalit batid natin na ang malaking bahagi ng sarili natin ay tumututol dito. We want to follow the path of love, the way of Christ, but when we try to do it, it runs counter to a deep inner tendency towards self-protection. We want, by nature, to live an easy life – a life without the cross, a life of self-indulgence, pleasure, and comfort. Now we know why love and taking the path of love hurts us – it goes against our deep inner tendency.
However, acceptance of Christ’s identity and mission sparks in us a willingness to accept pain and suffering, which is, in essence, the saving power of the Cross. It empowers us to move away from getting drawn unto ourselves – getting sucked and stuck on our own wants and desires. It empowers us to love – that is, to will the good of others and to do something about it. May we always let the cross of Christ triumph in us and through us by allowing the power of his love to transform us.