HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS

Grace

THEME: THE CROSS IS THE SYMBOL OF OUR FAITH

If you’ve ever wondered why the cross is the symbol of Christianity? The cross which from the very beginning represented everything negative: To the Romans, it was an instrument of death, shame, torture, and disgrace. It brought back lots of bad memories of the very worst that the Romans had been.  Islam had the crescent moon and the star, and Judaism had the Star of David.

Perhaps, Christianity could have chosen another celestial image to raise people’s minds to Heaven, like a comet, a rainbow, a dove, or perhaps an image of the Star of Bethlehem. But Christianity uses it as its symbol the instrument that was used to kill our God. 
Yes, that is exactly why it’s the symbol of Christianity. We use it as our symbol because of what God chose to do with that cross.  God changed the cross from a sign of death, defeat, shame, grief, and disgrace into a sign of hope, promise, and expectation by his death on the Cross! 

Today, we stand proudly with the cross as our symbol, because

God is NOT done bringing resurrection to His people. 

The power of the Cross continues even today!
And then of course, for us as Catholics, it can’t just be across, it’s gotta be a crucifix.  We keep the body of Jesus, the corpus as it is called, on the cross so that we never forget what Jesus did on the cross two thousand years ago. 

The cross is not a piece of art anymore. It is not just a symbol any more. It’s not just a piece of jewelry that we wear around our necks as ornament any more. The crucifix makes it the symbol of the triumph of grace. The very essence, the summit of our Salvation. For without the Crucifix, there’s no Christianity. The crucifix keeps the cross from being too nice, too easy, and too commonplace.  Most of our crucifixes are inspiring.  Notice that I said “most”.  They are meant to inspire us and raise our minds to God.

St. Maria Goretti gives us an insight into the representation of the Cross in the Spanish tradition. She tells us that in Spanish tradition, the crucifixes are much more graphic.  In Spain, the crucifixes are meant to make you feel the pain that Jesus went through on the cross.  And they look like it too!  There’s lots of blood, and torn flesh, and gore.  You definitely get the idea that you’re not looking at a beautiful piece of art.

So why is the Cross the symbol of our Faith?  Why is the Cross so important to Christianity, and most especially, to Catholic Christianity?  Why do we have this Feast Day today “Exalting” the Cross?  It is because the Cross is that essential to the story.  You can’t talk about Christ, your can’t talk about the Gospel, you can’t talk about Heaven, and NOT talk about the Cross.  It is an integral part of the story.  Jesus Himself admonishes us that each one of us must pick up our crosses and follow Him!  Nobody gets out of it.  The Cross is Christianity.  And we can’t be real followers of Christ if we don’t pick up our crosses and follow Him!  As Christians, we keep the Cross of Christ in front of us always.  We don’t want to ever forget what Jesus has done for us on that first Cross.  And nor do we ever want to forget that the Cross waits for all of us at the end of this life, just as it did for Jesus.

Jesus is telling us the whole truth.  He’s not sugar-coating anything.  He’s not pulling any punches.  He’s not holding anything back from us.  There are going to be crossed.  Being a Christian doesn’t get you out of crosses, instead, just the opposite, being a Christian promises your crosses.  But what’s the good news?  The good news is that by the Cross and by our crosses, God IS saving us.  Our salvation is being achieved by our picking up our crosses, big or little, no matter what they may be, and following Jesus Christ!  And that really is good news!
And so every September this Feast Day is a little reminder for us all.  God loves us very much.  He loves us enough to die on that cross to save our souls.  Now, the question is, what are we going to be willing to do for Him?

May God bless us on this Feast Day in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *