Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrating the three moments in history related to the Holy Cross of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This day we mark the moment when the True Cross, the actual Cross on which the Lord was hung and nailed on, was discovered by St. Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. It also marked the occasion of the Dedication of the Basilicas and churches built by the same Emperor Constantine on the Mount Calvary in Jerusalem. Lastly, it also marked the moment when the True Cross reentered Jerusalem in great triumph after having been captured by the Persian Sassanians three centuries after it had been discovered.
Essentially, in terms of historical significance, today’s Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross marked the moments when the true Faith and the Cross of Christ was triumphant over the forces of the world, such as the moment when the Christian faith and Church finally triumphed against those arrayed against them, as they were officially tolerated and the persecutions against them rescinded by the same Emperor Constantine the Great through the Edict of Milan. It was a moment of triumph that roughly coincided with the rediscovery of the True Cross of Our Lord and Saviour at the site of Mount Calvary. It was also another moment of triumph when the forces of Christendom triumphed over the pagan Sassanians, and reclaimed the True Cross from the enemy.
However, this Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is much more than just all of that. The most important triumph that this Feast celebrates today is the great triumph that Our Lord and Saviour has won for all of us, as He raised His Cross and was Himself raised on it, for the salvation of all the whole world, of all mankind, of all of God’s beloved children. Through His Cross, Our Lord Jesus Christ has shown us the perfect manifestation of God’s love as well as the perfect obedience of Man, through which God reached out to us and Man reached out to Him, with Christ forming the important Bridge through His Cross, reconnecting us and God.
In our first reading today we heard the story of what happened when the Israelites rebelled against God in the desert, and we heard about the bronze serpent of Moses which was crafted to help the Israelites. At that time, the rebellious Israelites disobeyed God such that the Lord sent fiery serpents to strike at them as punishment for their sins, disobedience and wickedness. Many died from those fiery serpents and their bites, and the people begged the Lord for forgiveness and mercy. It was then that the Lord told Moses to craft that bronze serpent as a sign of God’s salvation and mercy, and all those who saw that bronze serpent after being bitten did not perish.
That occasion is mirrored in our Gospel passage today when we heard of the exchange between the Lord Jesus and Nicodemus, the Pharisee who was sympathetic to Him and His teachings. The Lord spoke of the parallel between what happened back then and what He Himself would have to undergo, as He would be raised up as the Son of Man, before all the people much as how the bronze serpent was raised up by Moses before the whole people of Israel. And just as how the bronze serpent showed the salvation, mercy, compassion and forgiveness from God for His people, sparing them from the fiery serpents, thus, the Lord has also showed the infinite love of God through His crucifixion and His Cross.
The Lord has shown us His enduring and patient love, made manifest through His Son, and this was made possible because He loved us so much that He willingly emptied Himself and took up the appearance and essence of our humanity, by being born of His mother Mary, becoming the Son of God incarnate in the flesh, and becoming the Son of Man. Through His incarnation in the flesh, God made His love visible and tangible for us, and by His voluntary sacrifice on the Cross, the show of God’s ultimate love, all of us have witnessed and received the manifestation of that undying love. By suffering and dying on the Cross, He made us all sharers in His salvation, and die to our sins, and by His glorious Resurrection, He shared with us the new life, free from sin that we shall enjoy for eternity.
Not only that, but as I mentioned earlier, Christ by His humble submission to His Father’s will has shown us all mankind how we can be truly faithful to the Lord, and breaking free from the chains of sin and wickedness that had enslaved us, and how we can gain freedom from death through Christ and His assurance of salvation and new life for us. While the first Adam faltered and failed when tested by the devil, and succumbed to the temptations of his desires, ending up with sin that corrupted us all, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as the New Adam showed us that we should not and cannot bow down to those temptations or to the devil, and we should instead seek the Lord and commit ourselves to Him wholeheartedly.
That is why the devil, Satan, and all of his fallen allies, the evil spirits and demons despised and feared the Holy Cross, because that tool of humiliation that was once used for the worst of criminals, as means for great suffering and humiliation, has become the means by which God saved His beloved people, and through His Holy Cross, the Lord has cast a devastating blow upon the devil and all of his forces, and broke their dominion over us forever, showing us the sure path to freedom from sin and death, and into eternal life. This is why today we mark that glorious triumph of the Holy Cross over the forces of sin, evil and death.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the significance and importance of today’s Feast, its meaning and purpose, and how it has shown us the salvation of God and the triumph of His Cross, let us all also reflect and ponder upon our own lives. Let us all look upon the Lord on His Cross, the Crucifix, and discern how each and every one of us can be better disciples of His. We cannot continue to live our lives with apathy towards our faith, ignorance or lukewarmness, in how we practice our Christian faith and beliefs. We should not be hypocrites, and should not forget the love and compassion that God has always generously shown us.
Let us all look upon He Who has been crucified for us upon the Holy and Glorious Cross. Let us all glorify and praise Him more and more each day, by our own worthy and grace-filled lives, dedicating ourselves in each and every moments to love and serve the Lord ever more with our every living moments, with all of our might and strength. May the Lord, through His triumphant Cross, continue to guide us forward to the path towards eternal life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.