Exaltation of the Cross September 14
In every Catholic Church and Chapel throughout the world
we are celebrating today an instrument of execution
and we call it, “The Exaltation of the Cross.”
The Romans adopted this most torturous
form of execution from the Chinese.
It was reserved for the worst of criminals.
How does God take something so evil and cruel
and change it into the central symbol of our Catholic Faith
and the sign of our salvation?
I like the story that Brennan Manning told in his book, The Signature of Jesus.
– While meditating under a big tree on the bank of a river, an old man saw a scorpion floating helplessly on the river.
– Quickly the man stretched himself out on one of the tree’s long roots and reached out to try to rescue the drowning creature.
– As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively the man pulled away. – — But as soon as he regained his balance he stretched out again to save the scorpion. – – Again he was stung for his efforts, so badly that his hand swelled up most painfully.
A passerby who had seen all that had happened called out, “only a fool would risk his life for the sake of such a creature.”
– Calmly the man replied, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save.”
There’s no getting around it that Jesus
did not want to have to do this.
He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane
to let the cup of suffering pass him by.
Only a free, pure act of sacrificial love
stops evil and sin in its tracks.
Like the scorpion, the nature of sin and evil is to destroy,
the nature of Jesus is to save and give life to the one who sins.
Until we embrace his perfect love for us
and turn away from our sin there is no Exaltation of the Cross.
Let us not be afraid of the sting we might feel
when we face the truth of our sinfulness.
It’s only a small cross of suffering compared to what Jesus carried for us.
May all of our crosses of death become trees of life
and a source of salvation for many.