Fr Paul says the feast we celebrate today is also known as the ‘Triumph of the Cross’ and he reads from the Gospel of John (3: 13-17) in which Jesus says to Nicodemus ‘the Son of Man must be lifted up… so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him’.
On this feast today, Fr Paul says we might ask the question, ‘Why do we exult the cross ? Why do we exult or rejoice in an instrument of torture?
He believes we do so for two reasons. Firstly, Fr Paul says, as Christians we rejoice that something so terrible has been transformed into a means for redemption for the whole human race. Secondly, we remind ourselves during this celebration that Christianity is not an abstract and spiritual religion, Christianity is springs from God’s direct intervention in the world; a real historical event, involving real people and a real execution on a real cross.
Hence the words from the Gospel today… ‘Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life’.
In closing Fr Paul notes that if you take away the history, if you take away the cross, if you take away the circumstances in which it was used, and why it was used, then Christianity no longer makes much sense.