Exaltation of the Holy Cross

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In the tradition of the Holy Mother Church, September 14th is celebrated as the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which commemorates the many factions involving the Holy Cross. Not only does the feast  honor  the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine, it also celebrates of the dedication of the churches built by Constantine on the site of the Holy Sepulcher and Mount Calvary. And finally, as Catholics, we must remember that this feast honors the Cross, as the means that Christ used to attain for mankind the gift of redemption from our sins, by allowing Himself to be hung and crucified for us all. As we honor the Cross, or even pay homage to the bits of wood that are from the Cross of Christ…we must remember that the honor is not paid to the wood itself… but rather to Our Lord, Jesus Christ…who suffered and died on that Cross, for the redemption of mankind. We must always remember that the Holy Cross must be honored as the instrument that Christ used to gain us our salvation…the Crucifix  is not to be shunned…or put away and forgotten…as some Christian groups profess. Rather, as faithful Christians, we should put the Cross of Christ at the center of our lives…embracing It and all that it represents for us … for mankind….

Exaltation of the Holy Cross (2)

As we go through our daily struggles…especially those who were recently affected by hurricane Harvey or hurricane Irma, we must remember that these daily struggles are the crosses that we must endure. We have to carry these crosses and allow Christ….allow God to help us with every adversity we encounter. As we recall the first reading at today’s Mass, which is from Numbers 21: 4-9,  we read about the Israelites and how they were complaining to Moses about the way that God had provided for them as they wandered the desert….We understand their plight, for some of them have been wandering for a long time … When faced with the daily burden of living in the desert,  many of them no longer feel the presence of God  as they had when He first saved them, but rather, they feel that God has forsaken them….they feel alone and forgotten…

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How quickly though, they  have forgetten the freedom He had gained for them…They were grumbling…ungrateful for what He had given them… The manna…which is the bread from Heaven...and then, when they hungered for meat, the quail which He supplied them with. It is beginning to seem that He can do nothing right as far as they are concerned, and God is having none of it! He sends down serpents that will kill them with their bite! Of course, after the people are bitten and falling dead, He has their  attention, and soon they are begging Moses to pray to God, that He will forgive them and take the serpents away. But instead of taking the serpents away…He instructs  Moses to create a bronze serpent and show it to the people. He says, “Whoever kisses the bronze statue will be healed“…

It’s just like the Cross, and our daily crosses that we are called to bear for Christ. Instead of taking our crosses from us…God uses the Holy Cross of Christ as a means of  healing for all mankind. If we look at these crosses without faith… they will kill us.. But if we look at these crosses…and embrace them as Christ embraced His cross…they will be for us our salvation. Just as kissing the bronze serpent gave the Isrealite’s their life back…so too, shall embracing the Cross of  Christ… by uniting our crosses with His and embracing them…We shall have our lives returned to us ….A life that was gained for us by Christ…through no merit of our own. A life that was gained for us by the Holy Cross of Christ.

So today, and we continue to clean up after hurricane Irma… and we are forced to throw away personal belongings that were ruined by the raging winds and flooding waters… let our minds and hearts contemplate the story of  Moses and his lifting up of  the bronze serpent to heal the Isrealites who were dead. If we are to get through these difficult times, we must focus our thoughts on how Christ was lifted upon the Cross for the healing of man. Like Simeon, who helped Jesus carry his cross up the road to Calvary, those of us who were spared huge losses,  must unite ourselves to our brothers who are burdened and help them with the weight of their crosses. As faithful Catholics, we must not lose hope, we must remind our brothers and our sisters, of the  song that our Holy Mother teaches us… It is the song of redemption that can only be sung from the wood of the CrossChrist’s Cross... We must be willing to follow Him…. in humility… and in obedience…until death…We must be willing to identify with Christ on the Cross and become co-redeemers….sharing in His suffering and taking upon ourselves our own crosses and uniting them with His…and the Cross of man’s redemption.

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