The Symbol of Redemption
On September 14, the day before the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The preface for the Mass of the day beautifully captures the sprit of the celebration:
“For you placed the salvation of the human race on the wood of the Cross, so that, where death arose, life might again spring forth and the evil one, who conquered on a tree, might likewise on a tree be conquered, through Christ our Lord.
The Cross was a terrifying symbol in the days of the Romans. It symbolized death and was considered one of the most brutal ways to be killed. However, Jesus’ death transformed the symbol of death and despair into a symbol of hope. In the days of the Romans, “Exaltation of the Holy Cross” was a nonsensical phrase. Holy Cross would have been an oxi-moron and there would be no cause for exaltation.
However, as the preface states, the devil conquered the human race by tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Cross of Christ is often called “the tree.” And so, evil conquered on a tree, as the preface states. But then, Christ, on a tree, conquered evil. Thus, the Cross is not a symbol of mourning but of joy! Many Churches were built in the form of a Cross commemorating the glorious symbol of our redemption.
Every time we pray the Stations of the Cross we pray,
“We adore you, O Christ and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world!
Christ conquered death through the exaltation of the Holy Cross! He died to conquer death. He lived so that we all might have life!
The Pathway to Life
On this feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we should remember the comforting message that death no longer means the end. The Cross is the pathway by which we can have Eternal Life. In this life, we will all have crosses – our own difficulties to bear. There is a saying that if we were all to throw our crosses in one big pile, we would hurriedly take back our own when we saw those of everyone else. We should not look for crosses, however, we should embrace the ones Jesus gives us. By taking up our Crosses and following Jesus, we will find Eternal Life!
Every feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross we should thank God for sending His Son to die for our sins and to save us! Through the gift of His life, death, and sacrifice, the gates of Heaven are opened for us. I am going to close with a beautiful, brief meditation by Billy Graham:
“God proved his love on the Cross. When Christ hung, bled, and died, it was God saying to the world: “I love you.”
On this special day, let us tell our Savior that we love Him in return!
“Lift high the Cross, the love of Christ proclaim, ’til all the world adore His Sacred Name.”