Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus! Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
We hear in the introit (the entrance antiphon) for the Mass of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross:
“But it behooves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: in Whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection: by Whom we are saved, and delivered.”
It is a strange thought, but this instrument of torture and execution has become the symbol of our salvation. To this end, Catholics around the entire world have placed crosses and crucifixes in their homes for centuries. We hear from St. Paul: “For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:22-25).
For us, the cross would be a sign of rejection, embarrassment, destruction. At the time, being executed by way of the cross was our equivalent to the electric chair. Something that was considered shameful and reserved for the most heinous of criminals. Yet, this is the method chosen by Our Lord and a sign to us that God’s wisdom is not our wisdom; that God’s strength is not our strength. Christ was able to take such an instrument and use it for our salvation. To the point that we now exalt in the Holy Cross, because through it we have found our salvation, life, and resurrection.
This Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14) challenges us on many levels. One such way is that we must challenge our thinking, as God’s ways are not our ways. What seems weak to us (the cross, the poor, sickness, etc.) are all mighty in the eyes of the Lord. What seems strong to us (strength, health, wealth, etc.) are all nothing in the eyes of the Lord. It is for this reason that we must choose to either serve the Lord of Heaven and Earth, or we can serve the earth. We can’t serve both, because they each ask something different of us. They both demand something different.
When we gaze upon the Holy Cross, our world should be turned upside down. God loved us enough to suffer in such a way. He demonstrated His strength and power at the moment He appeared the weakest. I present this week a passage from St. Gregory the Great on this Feast Day. Have a blessed week ahead!
“Dearly beloved brethren, when we gaze upon Christ lifted up upon the Cross, the eyes of our mind see more than that which appeared before the wicked, unto whom it was said through Moses: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life (Deut. xxviii 66.) They saw in the crucified Lord nothing but the work of their own wickedness, and they feared greatly (Matth. xxvii. 54), not with that faith which giveth earnest of life by justification, but with that whereby the evil conscience is tortured. But our understanding is enlightened by the Spirit of truth, and with pure and open hearts we see the glory of the Cross shining over heaven and earth, and discern by inward glance what the Lord meant when His Passion was nigh at hand, and He said: Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things unto Me.” – St. Gregory the Great