Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 14: Exaltation of the Holy Cross Homily

Moses lifted up the Serpent
To heal Israel’s snake bites
Christ was lifted up on the Cross
To heal our wounds from the bite of a terrible viper (sin)
Christ humbled himself, but God exalted him
There is a fascinating story behind the Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Cross that we celebrate today. It all began with a battle for the conquest of Rome in 312 A.D. On the eve of that battle, Constantine I had a vision of a Cross in the sky and heard a voice tell him, “By this Sign, you shall conquer.” The following day, Constantine using the image of the cross he had seen, won the battle over the Milvian Bridge and occupied Rome and converted to Christianity and declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. The Holy Cross is the most powerful weapon we have as Christians. It is the place where the Devil was humiliated and defeated. The Devil will not look at the Cross, but walks away from it or tries to hide its real meaning from us, so that we devalue it; ignore it and even fall beneath the Cross. Why would that happen if the Cross is such a powerful weapon? One word – Faith. The enemy tries to dilute our faith so that we do not recognize or value the power of the Cross. The Devil ran away humiliated from the Cross at Calvary, only to come back and hide the Cross for over 200 years under a pagan Temple on Calvary! But you cannot hide God’s truth, God had a plan. Just as Jesus had been crucified by a Roman Empire Law, so too the Cross on which God’s Son died for our Salvation would be discovered by a Christian mother of a Roman Emperor, St. Helen, mother of Constantine I in 326. Constantine was the first Christian Emperor, who was also instrumental in bringing a sense of unity of local churches with Rome as the center.

What is the message? The Exaltation of the Holy Cross has no other message except that of the Cross itself. 1) The Cross before us, the Cross we wear, the Cross in our homes or in classrooms expresses God’s profound love for us, to the extend that God allowed his Son to die on the Cross for our sins; 2) That symbol of death, defeat and weakness becomes for us a symbol of life, triumph and strength; 3) The Cross is the most powerful symbol of our Christian faith by which we recall Christ’s death and resurrection, and by which Christ invites us too to carry our own cross as his disciples. “We adore you O Christ and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.”

©2008 John M.Mbinda

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