Sept 14: Exaltation of the Holy Cross


The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Friday, 14-09-18
Numbers 21:4-9 / Philippians 2:6-11 / John 3:13-17

This feast is called in Greek Ὕψωσις τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ (literally, "Raising Aloft of the Precious Cross"). In Latin it is called Exaltatio Sanctae Crucis (literally, "Raising Aloft of the Holy Cross").


Red vestments are worn for this feast, the same colour that is worn on Good Friday.

Good Friday commemorates the Passion of Christ and His death on the cross. Christ was nailed to the cross and flaunted before the face of God.

If it had all ended there, then evil would have triumphed because God did nothing to save His Son from evil.

Yes, God did not save Jesus from death, but God saved Jesus out of death (Hebrews 5:7).

And through the Resurrection, the cross of death has now become the cross of triumph over sin and death.

Yes, the holy and precious Cross is now raised aloft for the Church and for all the world to see.

For in the Cross is life and love, forgiveness and healing, redemption and salvation.

We must kneel before the Holy Cross and venerate it for it protects us and the powers of evil and darkness cower and flee before it.

Let us also pray with the Cross so that we will faithfully and courageously follow Jesus in His way of the Cross and finally we glory with Him in the Cross.

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To say that God sent His only Son to die for our sins is certainly correct, but there is more to it.

As a matter of fact, Jesus did die for our sins and He died a cruel death by crucifixion.

Jesus was nailed to the cross and was flaunted before the face of God as if to mock God for sending His Son to earth.

If it had all ended on the cross, then evil would have scored a victory because God did nothing to prevent or save Jesus from the cruelty and death on the cross.

Yes, God did not save Jesus from death. But since God did not save Jesus from death, then how would Jesus dying on the cross save us from our sins.

Well, God did not save Jesus from death. But God saved Jesus out of death (Hebrews 5:7). And that gave the whole twist to that cruel death by crucifixion.

It  is because God saved Jesus out of death by raising Him from the dead, then by the resurrection of Jesus we too are saved from our sins.

St. Paul, in the 2nd reading reiterates that when he said Christ did not cling to His equality with God but emptied Himself, and He was humbler yet even to accepting death on the cross.

But God raised Him high and gave Him the name above all other names and all creation will bend the knee at the name of Jesus.

So for St. Paul, the death of Jesus on the cross is the essence of our hope, although the cruel death on the cross seems to exclude any kind of hope.

But more than just a sign of hope, the cross is also the sign of love. Although that seems to be pushing the meaning of the cross to its limits already.

But the gospel tells us that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.

For God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but so that through Him the world might be saved.

So saying that God sent His only Son to die for our sins is correct but it is not the whole picture.

God sent His Son to love us and the price of that love is death on the cross.

But that love was so powerful that even the meaning of the cross was changed, for the cross of death has now become the cross of love that triumphs over sin and death.

So the holy and precious cross is now raised aloft for the Church and for all the world to see.

For in the cross is life and love, forgiveness and healing, redemption and salvation.

Let us kneel before the Holy Cross and venerate it for it protects us and the powers of evil and darkness cower and flee before it.
Let us also pray with the Cross so that we will faithfully and courageously follow Jesus in His way of the Cross and may we also glory with Him in the Cross.

*****
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In the 1st reading, when the people grumbled and complained about the unsatisfying food, fiery serpents appeared and their bite brought death to many people.

When the people repented and begged Moses to intercede for them, he was told by the Lord to make a figure of a serpent and to put it on a standard. And so Moses fashioned a bronze serpent and on a standard, and anyone bitten by a serpent would just have to look at it and be cured.

We may find it ironical that the figure on the standard was that of what caused death to the people.

In a way it is similar yet not the same; in fact it is the opposite of each other.

What caused death was a fiery venomous serpent. What was on the standard was a bronze figure of a serpent.

This account in the Old Testament prefigures the sign of salvation in the New Testament.

The cross was an instrument of torture and death used by the Romans. Jesus died on the cross. But by His rising from the dead, the cross is now turned into a symbol of salvation and even exalted as the holy cross.

We must acknowledge that we are sinners and that our sins have caused us great pain and our hearts crumble into the tomb of a spiritual death and we view the cross as a symbol of our sinfulness.

But now the Cross is exalted by the Resurrection of Christ and it has become the symbol of victory over sin and death.

Let us look at the Cross. It is no more a symbol of sin and shame. Because of the Resurrection of Christ it has become a symbol of the power and the glory of God.

Let us draw grace and mercy from the Cross of Christ and in overcoming our sinfulness may we also proclaim salvation through the Cross.