The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Today, Fr Paul reads from the John of Gospel (3: 13-17) in which Jesus tells Nicodemus that God loved the world so much that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
Fr Paul says it might seem strange that we have a celebration called the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, or the Triumph of the Cross (as it is also known). Why do we, as Christians, exalt an instrument of torture and death? Fr Paul notes that we have been celebrating this particular feast since around the 7th Century for two reasons.
Firstly, we have done so because something so terrible, that is the cross, has been transformed into a means of redemption for the whole human race. And secondly, through this feast we remind ourselves that God, through a real historical event involving real people came into direct contact with our world – through the historical event of Jesus on the Cross, God came in direct contact with our world.
Fr Paul says that for us then, Christianity is not just some abstract or spiritual religion, but based on historical fact. We can theologise and theorise all we like but without that historical fact on which these theologies and theories are based then Christianity would not mean much at all.
Mindful that something so terrible has been transformed into a means of redemption, and the historical event of Jesus being put to death on the Cross for the salvation and redemption of each of us, Fr Paul invites us to reflect in our prayer time today on the Cross, itself, and what it means to us as Christians.