In an outrageous plot twist, the first followers of Christ saw their King lifted up, not on a royal throne, but on a wooden cross. While today the cross is a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry, to the eyes of these first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome’s authority.1
And today, we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. On this day, we are invited to acclaim the cross of Christ, that ghastly instrument upon which He died. As I reflect on the cross, I am in utter awe, overwhelmed by His love for me. I am also horrified by the intense pain – emotionally, spiritually and physically – Jesus must have endured. These contrasting thoughts and emotions become reconciled in the truth that Christ’s death on the cross is the doorway to life for us. How fitting that today’s Gospel reading reminds us: “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 3:16
Death into Life.
“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21. St. Paul lived to magnify and honor Christ. He willingly forsook all earthly treasures, “counting them as rubbish” (Phil 3:8). St. Paul sought complete detachment from his human inclinations and desires; to effectively die to himself. Reflecting on the exaltation of the cross has called me to become more aware of where I may in fact be “exalting myself” and not Christ, and how I reject or ignore the “die to self” opportunities presented to me on any given day.I'm called to become aware of where I may in fact be exalting myself and not Christ, and how I reject or ignore the 'die to self' opportunities presented to me on any given day. Click To Tweet
I wish I could tell you that I usually meet these opportunities with grace and humility, but that wouldn’t be truthful. Yet, as I gather strength and conviction from what Jesus did during His grueling experience on the Cross, might I be able to, even once:
- Go all the way until I have nothing left to give?
- Humble myself before those who misjudge me?
- Not allow my pain to overshadow my loving?
- Compassionately witness the pain of others?
- Extend mercy to those who hurt me?
- Trust in God and submit to His plan, even when I don’t like it?
Today’s Gospel also says that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,” but to save us. And let’s be honest, the saving we are most in need of is saving from ourselves: from our selfish tendencies, fears, sinfulness in its varied forms, and the countless ways we may reject Christ’s love each day. He already knows every opportunity I will have today to choose death to my temporal desire for the sake of my eternal desire. Today, I place myself at the foot of His cross anew, and ask for the grace of surrender.Today, I place myself at the foot of His cross anew, and ask for the grace of surrender. Click To Tweet
Let’s close in prayer: Lord, help us to surrender completely, dying to ourselves, so that You may spring to life within us. May our day-to-day living be always for Your glory. Today, may we allow ourselves to receive the love and mercy that You invite us into through the gift of Your Holy Cross. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What is the Lord calling you to surrender today? In what part of your life will you “die” with Christ today?