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Jan. 9, 2005

Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
September 9, 2007
The Cross as Christian Symbol

    This Friday the Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  This is probably one of the most difficult concepts for non-Christians to comprehend.  In all honesty, it is even difficult for Christians to comprehend.  Why we exalt an instrument of torture as an instrument of triumph stumps many a learned person.  We can all well understand that the cross was a holy instrument since it was the cross that allowed us to be saved.  However, in an of itself, how is it an instrument of triumph.  Theologically, the triumph did not come until Easter Sunday when Christ rose from the dead.  The triumph was the conquering of death, not the death itself.  Why then, do we celebrate this feast?

    Fr. Richard Veras reflects on this topic in this months issue of Magnificat.  His reflection would be worth our own time spent in reflection.  Veras tells us that the Cross stood
independently of the Resurrection as a means of triumph.  The story begins with the fact that Jesus spent his ministry years speaking and healing with authority.  This authority gave the disciples a sense of strength and courage to face their life.  It gave them a feeling of promise for the future.  In short, it gave them hope.  With this mind, it would make sense that the day of the crucifixion would appear as the defeat of this authority.  For many, it should have blown a gigantic hole in the faith and hope of all disciples.

    Fr. Veras takes us through a short walk through the Scripture readings on this topic.  We are all familiar with these readings so we may become jaded, thus missing their essential message.  Veras reminds us of the centurion who stated: “Truly this many was the Son of God!”  Why did this centurion make this statement?  No doubt, this centurion had seen many such deaths.  He had seen hundreds of men perhaps pleading piteously for his life, or, perhaps cursing those around him.   What did the centurion see in Jesus?  He saw a man who forgave those who crucified him.  He saw him deal mercifully with a man dying with him.  He also say him praying to God with the familiarity of a son.  (Veras) This experience convinced the centurion that Jesus was no ordinary person.

    In John’s account of the passion, we see that Jesus impresses even Pilate, his judge.  Pilate was probably expecting a crazed man or a frightened prisoner.  He found himself judged to the core by the one he was supposed to judge.  Pilate was so impressed that he ordered the words “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (INRI) (Veras) placed on the cross and insisted on leaving them there even when he was criticized for it. 

    John was the only apostle to stay with Jesus until the end.  In his presence he experienced   a marvel.  He saw that even in the cross, Jesus’ authority was not eradicated. Rather, it was made stronger.  It was the cross that brought Jesus’ authority to the eyes of the Gentiles, a group who had not yet known him.  The very instrument of torture and death that had been used to destroy his authority served as a means of making it stronger. 

    Lift High the Cross, the love of Christ proclaim
              Till all the world adore his sacred Name.   
          
                                                                                   Lorette P. Nault