The Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross is one of twelve “Master feasts” celebrated in the Church to honor Jesus Christ our Lord and Master. This feast is celebrated to remember the first installation of the remnants of the true cross of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at Mount Calvary on September 14, 335 AD and its reinstallation on September 14, 630 A.D. St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine supervised the excavation of the Cross in 326.
Before the edict of Milan, the cross for Romans was a means of persecution and execution; a symbol of humiliation, a sign of extreme judgment. But in the hands of God it became a sign of freedom. For Christians it became a means of grace and a symbol of victory. The symbol of condemnation, indeed, became a symbol of acquittal.
Today’s celebration is about embracing our suffering as much as we embrace the joys of life. It reminds us that we cannot replace our suffering with joy. Our suffering can turn into joy. Resurrection cannot replace death. It comes only after death. The more you die to self, the more you experience resurrection. Remember what the great psychologist Karl Jung said? He said, “ Most of our mental illnesses are because of the avoidance of legitimate suffering”. The greatest message of the cross for me is that when God is involved, nothing is hopeless.
The cross occupies an irreplaceable place in the paschal mystery of Christ. It is evident in our celebration of the Easter Triduum. What would the Easter Triduum look like if we skipped Good Friday? Nonetheless, we should bear in mind that it does not begin with Good Friday nor does ii ends with Good Friday. It is at the center of Easter Triduum. For the same reason, cross is central to Christian faith. Therefore, theologically speaking, there is no resurrection cross. It’s always, cross and resurrection.
Cross in our classrooms, work place and in our churches evoke admiration, criticism and controversy. St. Paul faced such a controversy in Corinth. Corinthians were won over by Greek intelligentsia. They were exposed to wise and witty talks. They prized sooth Sayers and smooth talkers who made them feel nice. To them cross of Christianity was foolishness. They made fun of the cross saying it was crazy and was for tragedy mongers. Paul responded them by making fun of the wisdom of the world. According to him, those who made fun of the cross were like sick people who laughed at their doctor while prescribing medication for their cure. This is what he wrote: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? “(I Cor. 1: 18-20)
We adore you O Christ because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world