‘We adore You, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world’ – St. Francis of Assisi
Reflections on the readings for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14, 2021): NM 21:4-9; PS 78:1-2,34-35,36-37,38; PHIL 2:6-11; JN 3:13-17
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
On this day we revere the cross on which Christ was crucified for the sake of our immortal souls. But first, we must focus on the incomprehensible divine love that let Him willingly stretch out His hands and feet...
In the Gospel for this Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Old Testament reading speaks about Moses who, at God’s direction, raised up a bronze serpent to save the lives of the Jewish people who had been bitten by snakes. Jesus refers to this in the Gospel reading when He says that “the Son of Man must also be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:14-16). On this day we revere the cross on which Christ was crucified for the sake of our immortal souls. But first, we must focus on the incomprehensible divine love that let Him willingly stretch out His hands and feet to receive the nails securing Him to that instrument of death for Him – and life for us.
This feast has been celebrated on this day since the seventh century, although the cross was found about three hundred years earlier. Roman Emperor Constantine, who attributed his victory in a major battle to a vision of the Cross of Christ, sent his mother St. Helena to locate it. This was done and a church was built on the place where it was found. This Cross became greatly venerated and, over time, a cross became the universal symbol of Christianity. Throughout the year, but especially during Lent, Catholics pray the Stations of the Cross as we follow the events of Christ’s death on Good Friday. Frequently, the beautiful Stabat Mater, a hymn revering the Blessed Mother as she stood beneath the Cross bearing her Son, is sung or said. It contains these poignant words, worth contemplating: At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last. / … Christ above in torment hangs, she beneath beholds the pangs of her dying, glorious Son. / … By the Cross with thee to stay, there with thee to weep and pray, is all I ask of thee to give. …
Suggested missionary action: Let us meditate this week on prayers that refer to the cross of Christ including the Sign of the Cross and the Creed. We should particularly do this in the presence of a cross or crucifix.