September 14, 2014 – Exaltation of the Holy Cross – Year A

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Although the title of today’ s feast refers to the cross, today is not a repeat of Good Friday. In the First Reading, God punishes the people with poisonous serpents; it is rarely heard in the Sunday assembly. Its purpose is to prefigure the salvation found when the Son of Man is “lifted up” (Communion antiphon). The point is salvation, not punishment.

Indeed, as the reading from John’s Gospel intimates, Christ’s cross and Christ’s glory cannot be separated. The Gospel offers a message that stands out like a shining light in this paralyzing world. Our world, this damaged, suffering, neglected, bleeding world, is loved! And we, both the authors and the victims of our choices, we, who have acted out of selfishness, greed, foolishness, blindness, and just plain wickedness, are not only loved, but can be saved, made worthy again of God’s gifts. We can be given another gift: life that is rich and meaningful.

Today is a feast of triumph, and all the liturgy’s texts speak of the mystery of the cross as the path to “the grace of His redemption in heaven” (Collect). As the preface for today acclaims, the cross is our “tree to be conquered,” and by its wood we have been redeemed (Prayer after Communion).

Today’s liturgy can take as a point the tone of the entrance antiphon: “We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let the Church resound with praise!