YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
HOMILY THEME: WHAT THE CROSS SIGNIFIES
BY: Fr. Benny Tuazon
HOMILY: (Jn. 3:13-17) Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14)
In today’s Gospel, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Jesus recalls the desert experience of Moses and the Israelites he was leading to the promise land. Many Israelites, due to the hardships they were experiencing while journeying, spoke against the Lord. The Lord got angry at them and sent fiery serpents which killed many Israelites. The Lord relented when they begged and asked forgiveness. Moses was instructed to make a symbolic serpent attached at the end of the pole and declared that whoever is bitten need only to look at the serpent and they will be healed. In the same way, Jesus, the Son of Man, will be raised (on the cross) and will be the source of life eternal for those who will believe.
The cross has so many meanings both to Christians and non-Christians. For Christians alone, it is a sign of inhumanity by man, humanity of God, love, sacrifice, justice, and obedience. This feast may refer to the triumph of the Christian Faith, symbolized by the cross. It is not the cross itself which is exalted but the saving action of Jesus through the cross. That which was a symbol of absurdity, scandal, pain, and death, had become the central symbol of the Christian Faith because of the meaning Jesus gave to it. Jesus changed the meaning of the cross.
The cross has become life to every Christian. When Jesus chose to die on the cross, He put an end to death and let eternal life enter. Salvation, through the cross, became the greatest irony in human history. That which was the place of death to many had become a source of new life to many.
Today’s feast is not a mere remembering or reenactment of how Jesus gave meaning to the cross. This feast is a reminder that we have our own crosses to carry and die on. The true follower of Jesus knows his fate.
Our crosses have different sizes in the same way that we have different magnitude of challenges in life. Nevertheless, we accept our crosses and endure them in faith. We know that, like Jesus, our cross will not be the source of our end but the beginning of new life. Our cross reminds us that life is not a bed of roses. Nevertheless, it will lead us to life eternal.