Philippians 2:6-11;Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38; John 3:13-17
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
At the name of Jesus every knee should bend. (Philippians 2:10)
In a.d. 326, St. Helena, the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, discovered the true cross of Jesus near the site that generations had venerated as the Mount of Crucifixion. Upon discovering the cross, everyone fell to their knees and cried out, “Lord, have mercy!” A church was built on the site—the Church of the Holy Sepulcher—and the cross was placed in a prominent position within the building. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335, and the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross was celebrated annually on the following day, September 14.
About three hundred years later, the cross was taken as plunder by the Persian emperor Khosrau II but was reclaimed fourteen years later by the Roman emperor Heraclius, who brought it to Constantinople where it was once again triumphantly exalted.
This short history lesson has some resemblance to the way we live out our faith. For instance, when we see the glory of the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we rejoice. With grateful hearts we say, “Lord, I love you; have mercy on me.” But then we lose sight of this gift of salvation. Without even realizing it, we let the cross get buried underneath our many priorities and responsibilities.
Then, when we are touched, maybe by a tragic event, by a book we read, or by a moving homily at Mass, we “excavate” the cross and exalt it once more. We give it a place of prominence in the sanctuary of our hearts. But then we lose our focus and let our guard down. A stronger foe conquers us and steals the joy of the cross from us. Finally, with newfound determination we take the cross back and we say once more, “Jesus, I exalt your cross. I make it my foundation. Lord, have mercy on me!”
May we all do our best to exalt the cross and make it the first foundation of our lives!
“Lord, as I lift up the cross, I ask you to have mercy on me.”~WAU