Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, remembering the three moments when the Lord’s True Cross was discovered by St. Helena in Jerusalem, and the Dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre at Mount Calvary, which still stands to this very day as one of the holiest sites of Christendom, and finally the triumphant restoration of the True Cross of Christ to the Holy City of Jerusalem after it had been captured and seized the Persians during the reign of the Roman Emperor Heraclius.
It was told that the True Cross of Our Lord was discovered by St. Helena, the Christian mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, who went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and was called to discover the True Cross of Our Lord. Upon her search, three crosses were discovered around the site of Our Lord’s crucifixion in Golgotha or Calvary, two of which belonged to the two thieves who were crucified with Him. St. Helena discovered the True Cross when a sick man was completely and miraculously healed upon touching one of the crosses. Ever since then, the True Cross has been an inspiration of all the faithful.
On this day we therefore rejoice in the great triumph of the Cross of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Saviour of the whole world, as that Cross became the symbol of hope and salvation for all, the proof of God’s eternal and undying love for each and every one of us, and the reassurance of His providence and guidance before all of us. We rejoice today because the triumph of the Cross has led us into the path towards freedom and liberation from our sins, and it is the hope that we clings onto as we journey through life in this world darkened with sin and evil.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Numbers of the moment when the Israelites rebelled against God and refusing to listen to Him or follow Him, as despite having been well-taken care of by the Lord, they were still not satisfied and often grumbled at what they had received, wanting more and a better life. They grumbled that they had a much better life in Egypt even though they were enslaved, and these things were said despite the fact that the Lord had provided for them and taken care of them, feeding them and giving them ample water to drink daily through the dry and lifeless desert, for years.
And by their sins, caused of their disobedience and rebellion, they were struck by many fiery serpents that came to bite them and many perished from those serpents. This was referenced by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians, that ‘the sting of death is sin’, a reminder that sin is the cause of death and destruction, for sin is disobedience and refusal to believe in the Lord and the stubbornness in following one’s own way rather than walking in the path that God has shown us. As such, just as our forefathers, from the time of Adam and Eve, had tasted death because of their sins, hence the same applied to the Israelites and all of us as well.
We all suffer death because of those sins that we committed, and without God and His love, we should have perished and been condemned to hellfire. Yet, it was God’s enduring love for us from the very beginning that gave us the hope and the opportunity to be forgiven, to be reconciled with Him. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, God loves each and every one of us, as He has created us all out of love, and to share His love with us, to make us all perfect in love just like Himself. The Cross is the symbol and proof of that love.
Just like the bronze serpent that Moses made upon God’s instruction, when he beseeched Him for the sake of the people, and which he lifted up high to be seen by all, that everyone who had been bitten by the serpents might be saved and not perish, thus, the Cross of Christ is that ultimate symbol of hope and victory, the sign of God’s love and providence for His people, that from the very beginning, He has always been with us, journeyed with us, and never abandoned us, and to the Cross at Calvary, He gave us all, even His own life, for our salvation.
St. Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians, in our alternate first reading today spoke of the obedience that Our Lord Jesus, the Son of God and Saviour of all had in His Father’s will, in fulfilling the planned salvation for all of us, that He humbled Himself, emptied Himself of all glory and power, that He, the Divine Word of God Incarnate, assumed the position of a slave, a criminal and a rejected man, to be the least of all, and as One scourged, beaten and broken so that by His sufferings, He might share our sufferings and took upon Himself our multitudes of sins upon Himself.
He obeyed so perfectly and humbled Himself, as our Eternal and True High Priest, in offering for us the sacrifice for our sins, the worthy sacrifice for the atonement of our sins. And for the eternal atonement and forgiveness of all of our sins, there is only one worthy offering and sacrifice, namely the sacrifice of Christ Himself, the Paschal Lamb, the Lamb of God, Who as the High Priest also is the Sacrificial Lamb slain on the Altar of the Cross at Calvary. That Cross therefore became the source of our salvation, the hope and light amidst the darkened world.
The cross was a symbol of the ultimate humiliation and the most severe and painful punishment that was reserved only for the worst of criminals and the traitors to the state. It was a truly terrible, painful and humiliating way for someone to die, and that was exactly what the Lord had subjected Himself into, as One Who was blameless and sinless, and yet, forced to bear the punishment of the worst sinners. But this was also something that the Lord willingly accepted upon Himself, as He took up the cup of suffering, sharing with us and bearing for us the burdens that should have been ours.
And Christ turned that symbol of utter humiliation and sorrow, of tragedy and pain, into a symbol of hope and victory so great, that no one else ever looked at the cross in any other way from then on. For all Christians, and all those who believed in the Lord and His salvation, while the crucifix remind us of the sacrifice of Christ and His ultimate love for us from the cross, as He hung from it at Calvary before His death, but that same Cross has become the proof of God’s ultimate triumph and victory, the greatest victory that He has won for us, against the tyranny of sin and death.
That is why all of us have to appreciate everything that the Lord had done for our sake. He has showed us all what true love is all about, a love that is truly great and wonderful, and He has led us to triumph against the once unsurmountable forces of evil, sin and death. As we look upon the Cross of Christ, do we see the Lord and His loving face gazing down upon us, and are we reminded at just how fortunate we have been that God is willing to do all of that, just so that we may be freed from the fate of eternal damnation?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today therefore, as we celebrate this Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, let us all keep in mind the love of God that is always ever present in our midst, in Christ our Lord, through His life-giving sacrifice, by which He has shown us the path to eternal life, by His Cross. In the glorious Cross of Christ, we have seen the Lord’s providence and love for us, and we have received the assurance of eternal life. Let us all give Him thanks and strive to love Him more and more, and regain the strength and hope through the Cross of Our Lord and Saviour.
We have once been brought low by the power of sin, but God has broken its hold and dominion over us, giving us the hope to true joy and life eternal in Him. However, we must still ever be vigilant, as temptations are still plentiful in trying to mislead us and bring us back down into the path of sin. Unless we are careful, we may end up falling into sin again, and getting further and further away from the salvation in God. This is where we should entrust ourselves to the Holy Cross of Christ, and commit our lives to Him from now on.
May the Lord, our Triumphant Saviour through His Holy Cross deliver us from the stranglehold of sin and death, and may He continue to show us the path to eternal life and true freedom through His Cross. May all of us look upon Him Who was crucified for us, and remind ourselves always of just how beloved and fortunate each and every one of us have been, to be so loved by God and to be deemed as precious in His eyes. May God bless us all, the people of His Cross, and may He lead us all into eternal joy and glory with Him. Amen.