Good morning, happy Monday, many blessings, and delighted Holy Cross Day.
Celebrated on September 14th, Holy Cross day is a day which honors and commemorates the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the cross for our salvific liberation. It is from this festivity that our church takes its name. The Holyrood or Holy Rood is a Christian relic alleged to be part of the True Cross on which Jesus died. The word derives from the Old English rood, meaning a pole and the cross, via Middle English, or the Scots haly ruid ("holy cross").
The text for today’s Liturgy (John 3:13-17) has been taken from the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It should not surprise us that the passage chosen for this celebration forms part of the fourth Gospel, because it is precisely this Gospel which presents the mystery of the cross of the Lord as the exaltation. This is clear from the beginning of the Gospel: “as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14; Daniel 7:13). John explains the mystery of the Incarnate Word in the paradoxical movement of the descent-ascent (John 1:14,18; 3:13).
In fact, it is this mystery which offers the key for the reading in order to understand the evolution of the identity and of the mission of the passus et glorious (suffering and glorious) of Jesus Christ, and that we may well say that this is not only valid for the text of John. The Letter to the Ephesians, for example, uses this paradoxical movement to explain the mystery of Christ: “Now, when it says, ‘He went up’, it must mean that He had gone down to the deepest levels of the earth” (Ephesians 4:9).
Jesus spoke to Nicodemus - “a teacher in Israel” - and invited him to open his heart to a mystery that was beyond his thinking and learning. Even as I give thanks to God for the faculty of intelligence, I pray that my heart be open to wonder - even if the cross tells me that it risks being broken. I consider what it means to read “God loves everyone so much.” I review any limits I have put on those I consider lovable or worthy.
In our exaltation of the Cross lies the basic paradox of our faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that the suffering of Jesus brought us salvation, and that we are called to express this faith by joining our own suffering with His. I believe that doing this saves my suffering from meaninglessness and furthers the salvation of the world from suffering.
I gaze in wonder at the depth of God's wisdom and mercy, I adore the crucified Jesus and ask for a deep sense of gratitude in front of this mystery. In the cross of Christ is our freedom and birth to a new life. God generously gave us his own Son so that we might all truly live. The cross is the icon of great faith, hope, and love. As I gaze and contemplate Christ on the cross or the empty cross, I ask Jesus for his redemptive and healing love that embraces the whole world.
If all the Gospels had been lost except the verse given here, ‘God so loved the world…’ (John 3:16), that alone would be enough to give hope to humankind! Here we have the heart of the Good News: the limitless love of God for us all, proved by his sending his Son to bring us home into eternal life. The rest of the New Testament is a commentary on this truth. This is why I still believe that one day the religion of love will unite the human race. Love will win!