Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today we celebrate what to some might seem a gruesome thing.  The Cross of Crucifixion; the most advanced weapon of torture and death that the Romans could use. It is still considered a most heinous discovery by mankind.  It is a terrible mark on the history of mankind.

And on top of this we celebrate the one cross that was used by mankind to perpetrate deicide, murder of God.  That man could stoop so low as to kill their creator must have made Satan howl in delight. This should frighten us – that we could kill God; and maybe that is why God allowed Himself to be murdered.  Martin Luther, said ‘that man must be first be frightened of himself so he can find the right way.[1]  Our self-smug complacency allows Satan to lead us down a path to a Godless place.  We needed something strong to shake us out of that stupor.  In this case mankind wasn’t understanding what God was about, didn’t discern from almost two thousand years of revelation through the prophets just what it took to be with God.  But, God had the plan – He had the crucifix – He had love.  He came and let us see what Isaiah’s suffering servant prophecies meant.  The death of God, was the lowest point of mankind and the start of recovery.

So, back to the title of today’s Feast ‘The Exaltation of the Cross’ what are we exultant about?

God, taught us love.
We learned what love is about.  The cross showed us what love entails: concern for others, selfless activity on behalf of others, willing the good for those around us – sacrifice; and finding the joy that this brings.

God, is constantly with us.
By His cross we are in constant touch with our loving God.  We look to the crucifix and remember, and in remembering are spurred to embrace Him.  We can struggle with our lives and we can turn our view from the gift God has given us – BUT – it just takes us to look back at the Cross to understand who we should be, who we are now, and who can help us close the gap.  We are not alone in our journey.

And finally, as we exult the gifts that the cross enabled us to receive we can hear the howling of Satan through the ages.  We hear his howl that screamed across eternity the second Christ breathed His last.  The howl of rage, frustration and betrayal.  When Christ dies Satan realizes that his joy in God’s death, the ruination of mankind towards their creator and the creator towards them betrayed him.  God, with this act put death to death, eliminated the chasm between Him and His creation; brought the prodigal mankind home to the Father.  Lucifer would not bring mankind down with him – he would now be alone (to the extent that not all mankind would follow).


[1] Martin Luther quote used by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) Salt of the Earth


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