Feast of the Triumphant Cross

John 3: 13-17
Num 21: 4b-9/Ps 78/Phil 2: 6-11

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
(John 3:14)

Grant us the grace, Lord, to be aware
That our sins are Your crucifixion;
And the wisdom to accept our share
In Your cross for our own salvation.

Jesus said, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3: 13-17)

Reflection

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Jesus cited the account of Moses lifting up the bronze serpent on a standard (to save the Israelite people who had sinned against God) in order to prophesy His own death on the cross, which would also become the standard of salvation for future generations of Christians.

This veneration of the Cross originated in the fourth century, which, according to early accounts, began when a remnant of the Cross in Calvary was miraculously discovered by Saint Helen, the mother of Constantine, when she went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem on September 14, 326. Thus, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross has been celebrated by Christians on September 14 ever since.

We venerate the Cross of Christ because it was and still is the instrument of our salvation. Adoring the Cross might seem like idolatry to some denominations, but for most Christians, it is actually adoring Jesus Christ Himself, Who suffered and died on this Roman instrument of torture to redeem us from sin. It represents the supreme Sacrifice by which our Lord Jesus was able to accomplish for our salvation. He humbled Himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. (Phil. 2:8)

A most disturbing idea was proposed by some leaders in our community that in the spirit of ecumenism (and to make invited businessmen feel at ease), it might be prudent to do away with the images of the cross and the Blessed Virgin Mary from the altar during our breakfast fellowships. They reasoned that this would encourage attendance of Christians from other denominations, and help promote unity and harmony. Let us not forget the words of our Lord, Who said: “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” (Mt.10:38). The cross is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. Whenever we kneel in prayer before the cross, we are confronted with this great mystery of our salvation. St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “The language of the cross may be illogical to those who are not on the way to salvation, but those of us who are on the way see it as God’s power to save.” (1Cor. 1:18)

As members of the one true church, we have surrendered our lives to the cross of Christ, and therein gained victory over death and sin. Are we then to compromise our victory for the sake of accomodating those who do not share our own faith? On the contrary, we must exalt the cross as a constant reminder — and witness — of Christ’s ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His passion and death on the Cross. For the Church to be universal, all Christians (especially pragmatic businessmen) must embrace it!

Lord, please enlighten all the leaders in our community that Your Cross is our most powerful instrument of evangelization. Inspire them to give witness to its meaning in our faith, because in Your great sacrifice, there can never be any compromise. Amen.

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