Friday, 14 September 2018 : Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great occasion of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, remembering that Holy Cross through which we have received our salvation, by none other than the suffering, crucifixion and death of Our Lord on that same Holy Cross, at Calvary, as the Altar of His offering and perfect love for us.

The cross is the first and most visible symbol of our Christian faith, the mark which has been given to us, not as a symbol of shame and punishment, as how it was intended to be, but rather as a symbol of triumph and victory against sin and death, the final victory which God has won for us all, against the tyranny of the sins that have bound us for time immemorial ever since the first time we disobeyed God and fell into the temptation of Satan.

And let us keep this key tenet of the importance of the Cross to our faith, as we continue along our today’s discourse. First of all, let us begin by looking at the passage from the Book of Numbers, in which we heard about the moment when the people of Israel rebelled against God, so much so that despite all that God had done for their sake, liberating them from the Egyptians, protecting them from their enemies and providing for their needs along the way even while in the middle of the desert.

But they continued to grumble and to complain, even rising up against Moses, wanting to kill him and replace him, and providing for themselves an alternative ‘god’ and idol, in the golden calf and in the pagan gods and idols of the neighbouring people. This disobedience and rebelliousness is the same kind of disobedience that Adam and Eve have once shown the Lord, and therefore, brought sin into the hearts of those people.

And the just consequence and punishment for sin, is the separation from God, by our own deliberate and willing rejection of God’s love and grace. And when we are separated from God, Who is the source of all creation and life, what is left for us is death. That is why, in the first reading, this is symbolised dramatically with the moment when God sent the serpents to strike at the disobedient and sinful people of Israel, and many died as a result.

That represents the death that comes about because of sin and disobedience. The serpents represent the sting of sin, the poison of sin, that will bring about death, should nothing be done to try and save those who were bitten by its poison. But the people regretted their sinful attitudes and begged God through Moses to show mercy on them and save them. And God showed clearly how He truly did not wish for their destruction, but rather, for them to be reconciled and be saved.

In the first place, if God did not love us or has wished for us to be destroyed, He would not even have created us in the first place. God is all good and perfect, and He could not have created us just that we can be destroyed and annihilated. Instead, as mentioned, it was our own conscious and willing rejection of God’s love and grace that has caused us to fall into eternal damnation in hell. Hell is in reality, a state of total separation from God because of our own rejection of Him.

But again, linking back to what we have discussed at the start of this discourse, the Cross is the symbol of God’s perfect love for us, which He made evident, clear and real through none other than His beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, as we heard in the Gospel passage today, that God so loved the world that He gave us all His one and only beloved Son, Jesus Christ, that through Him, all who believe in Him may not perish but instead receive eternal life.

In the first reading, we heard how God asked Moses to craft a bronze serpent placed on a staff, where the bronze serpent was displayed and lifted up high before all. All those who have been bitten by the serpents would not die should they look upon the bronze serpent. And this is linked to what the Lord Jesus Himself did at the time of the fulfilment of His ministry and work, that is His crucifixion.

As the Lord Himself explained to Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees who came to believe in Jesus, just as the bronze serpent was raised high in the desert at the time of Moses to be the sign of hope and deliverance for all those who have suffered from the fiery serpents, He too would be raised up for the salvation of all mankind, who have been ‘bitten’ by the sting of sin.

The Lord gathered willingly towards Himself, the sins of all mankind, from the beginning of time, to the present and to the end of time, that all of us have been, by the will of God and His grace, by His loving and most selfless sacrificial act on the Cross, the Man Who was without blame and sin, but made to suffer the consequences of everyone’s sins, on the Holy Cross on Calvary.

This is the proof of God’s ultimate love for us, that despite all that we have done, in our disobedience and refusal to listen to Him, God’s love for us is so great, that He was willing to do everything, even to suffer such great pain and suffering, of bearing the whole weight and burden of our sins, by dying on the Cross. The cross at that time was the symbol of ultimate shame and suffering, reserved by the Romans who ruled Judea, where the Lord Jesus was, to be the punishment for the worst of criminals.

But this symbol of ultimate shaming, disgrace and humiliation has been transformed completely by what the Lord has done, in taking the symbol of the Cross to be the sign of certain and sure victory in the battle between good and evil, and in the ultimate downfall of Satan and all those who have brought us all to sin. The Cross is the proof of God’s triumph over sin and death.

That is why, the Cross occupies such a central and important part in our faith. The sign of the Cross is the sign of our Christian faith, and is the profession of our faith and belief in the Lord’s saving grace and love. All of us who look upon the Cross, on our Crucified Messiah, have seen a new hope, and we who believe in Him and seek His merciful love, will be saved and will receive new life in God.

As St. Paul said, in his Epistle to the Romans, Jesus is the New Adam, Who is unlike the old Adam. While in old Adam, through the disobedience and sin committed, all of us have suffered the consequences of sin and therefore, all of us are bound to die, but through the New Adam, that is Christ, all of us are brought to share in His death, in dying to our old ways of sin, and embrace the new life He offers us.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice together and exalting the glory of the Holy Cross, the triumph and victory which Our Lord has won over the dominion of sin and death, let us all therefore rediscover our love and genuine devotion to God, especially through the Cross by which He has shown us His perfect, selfless and ultimate love for each one of us, without exception.

Let us now therefore renew our commitment to live like true Christians, as we turn ourselves towards the Cross, and be people of the Cross, bearing proudly within ourselves, the symbol of our faith, this Holy Cross, by which we have been saved. Let us keep in mind always, God’s everlasting love for us all. Amen.

Friday, 14 September 2018 : Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 3 : 13-17

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one has ever gone up to heaven except the One Who came from heaven, the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”

“Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

Friday, 14 September 2018 : Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Philippians 2 : 6-11

Though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in His appearance found as a Man.

He humbled Himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted Him and gave Him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Friday, 14 September 2018 : Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 77 : 1-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

Give heed, o My people, to My teaching; listen to the words of My mouth! I will speak in parables; I will talk of old mysteries.

When He slew them, they repented and sought Him earnestly. They remembered that God was their Rock, the Most High, their Redeemer.

But they flattered Him with their mouths; they lied to Him with their tongues, while their hearts were unfaithful; they were untrue to His Covenant.

Even then, in His compassion, He forgave their offences and did not destroy them. Many a time He restrained His anger, and did not fully stir up His wrath.

Friday, 14 September 2018 : Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Numbers 21 : 4b-9

The people were discouraged by the journey and began to complain against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is neither bread nor water here and we are disgusted with this tasteless manna.”

YHVH then sent fiery serpents against them. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, speaking against YHVH and against you. Plead with YHVH to take the serpents away.”

Moses pleaded for the people and YHVH said to him, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard; whoever has been bitten and then looks at it shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a standard. Whenever a man was bitten, he looked towards the bronze serpent and he lived.

(Usus Antiquior) Exaltation of the Holy Cross (II Classis) – Friday, 14 September 2018 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Preface, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Red

Offertory

Tradition of the Faith

Protege, Domine, plebem Tuam per signum Sanctae Crucis ab omnibus insidiis inimicorum omnium : ut tibi gratam exhibeamus servitutem, et acceptabile fiat sacrificium nostrum, Alleluja.

 

English translation

Through the sign of the Holy Cross, protect Your people, o Lord, from the snares of all enemies, that we may pay You a pleasing service, and our sacrifice be acceptable, Alleluia.

 

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Jesu Christi, Domini nostri, Corpore et Sanguine saginandi, per quem Crucis est sanctificatum vexillum : quaesumus, Domine, Deus noster; ut, sicut illud adorare meruimus, ita perreniter Ejus gloriae salutaris potiamur effectu. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Being about to be fed with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom the banner of the Cross was sanctified, we beseech You o Lord, our God, that, as we have had the grace to adore it, so we may forever enjoy the effect of its salutary glory. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

 

Preface of the Holy Cross

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos Tibi semper et ubique gratias agere : Domine, Sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus : Qui salutem humani generis in ligno Crucis constituisti : ut, unde mors oriebatur, inde vita resurgeret : et, qui in ligno vincebat, in ligno quoque vinceretur : per Christum, Dominum nostrum.

Per quem majestatem Tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates. Caeli caelorumque Virtutes ac beata Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti jubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes :

 

English translation

It is truly meet and just, right and profitable for us, at all times, and in all places, to give thanks to You, o Holy Lord, Father Almighty, Eternal God, You Who had established the salvation of mankind in the wood of the Cross, that from whence death came into the world, thence a new life might spring, and that he who by a tree overcame, by a tree might be overthrown. Through Christ our Lord.

Through Whom the Angels praise, the Dominations adore, the Powers, trembling with awe, worship Your majesty, which the heavens, and the forces of heaven, together with the Blessed Seraphim joyfully do magnify, and You do command that it be permitted to our lowliness to join with them in confessing You and unceasingly to repeat :

 

Communion

Tradition of the Faith

Per signum Crucis de inimicis nostris libera nos, Deus noster.

 

English translation

Through the sign of the Cross deliver us from our enemies, o our God.

 

Post-Communion Prayer

Adesto nobis, Domine, Deus noster : et, quos Sanctae Crucis laetari facis honore, ejus quoque perpetuis defende subsidiis. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

May You be with us, o Lord, our God, and as You had made us rejoice in honour of the Holy Cross, defend us also by its perpetual assistance. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Exaltation of the Holy Cross (II Classis) – Friday, 14 September 2018 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Red

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. John

John 12 : 31-36

In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus turbis Judaeorum : Nunc judicium est mundi : nunc princeps hujus mundi ejiciatur foras. Et ego si exaltatum fuero a terra, omnia traham ad meipsum. (Hoc autem dicebat, significans, qua morte esset moriturus.)

Respondit ei turba; Nos audivimus ex lege, quia Christus manet in aeternum : et quomodo Tu dicis : Oportet exaltari Filium Hominis? Quis est iste Filius Hominis?

Dixit ergo eis Jesus : Adhuc modicum lumen in vobis est. Ambulate, dum lucem habetis, ut non vos tenebrae comprehendant : et qui ambulat in tenebris, nescit, quo vadat. Dum lucem habetis, credite in lucem, ut filii lucis sitis.

 

English translation

At that time, Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews, “Now is the judgment of the 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 to Myself. (Now this He said, signifying what death He should die.)

The multitude answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law, that Christ abides forever, and how can You say, the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is the Son of Man?”

Jesus therefore said to them, “Yet a little while, the Light is among you. Walk while you have the light, that the darkness does not overtake you. And he who walks in darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light.”