Commentary on the Gospel of
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
The cross is a strange symbol for us when you stop to think about it; and then, if you think about it a bit longer, it’s exactly the symbol Christians ought to have. Like the seraph in the first reading, it is a symbol of death. And like the bronze seraph, when we confront death or we are dead to our relationship with God in some way (sin), the cross serves as a reminder that God brings life out of death. God subverted a tool of death to become a sign of hope, life, and a call to sacrificial love! Suffering is so closely tied to love and resurrection in our Christian lives that we are signed with the Cross every chance we get: from the beginning of our Christian lives at baptism, we are marked with it.
I attended grad school at the University of Notre Dame, run by the Congregation of the Holy Cross. (Happy feast day to them!) I had expected the hymn “Lift High the Cross” to be used frequently at campus liturgies, but was pleasantly surprised to learn the equally triumphant but less militaristic “Cross of Our Hope.”* The verses offer a glimpse of a life lived following the Cross:
The spirit of the Cross is a spirit of charity, Cross of Christ, be our glory!
The spirit of the Cross is a life of forgiveness, Cross of Christ, be our mercy!
The glory of the Cross is the triumph of sacrifice: Mystery of love, Cross of glory!
The sorrow of the world is our work and our mission, Sign of the Cross, be our vision!
May our work continue to address the sorrows of the world as we continue to follow the One who destroyed death and turned even its tool into a sign of life!