Reflection on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross By Br Michael Moore OMI
The Exaltation of the Cross
Today in union with the whole Church we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. The cross is central to our faith as followers of Jesus. It is through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that that we are saved and forgiven. It is through his suffering, death and on the cross and his rising to new life that we ourselves are given the gift and promise of everlasting life. There is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday; there is no Resurrection without Jesus dying on the cross.
This wonderful feast is not meant to glorify or celebrate suffering or pain. When we think of the cross, our first thoughts may be uncomfortable or even negative. Over the centuries many great artists have tried to capture the reality of the crucifixion. Some of these paintings, amazing though they are, graphically show the pain that Jesus endured when he was crucified. They are not easy to look at. However, at that the heart cross is the positive, a fullness of life and love so profound that no darkness can overcome or defeat it.
The cross had a very important place in the heart, life and daily ministry of the Founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, St. Eugene de Mazenod. As a young man he felt that he was wasting his life. He felt that there was neither meaning nor purpose in anything that he did. He felt lost and alone. However, it was at this very time in his life that God reached out to him. It happened in 1807 on Good Friday. While looking at the cross that day, Eugene never realised or appreciated that it concerned him or had anything to with him personally. While he looked at Jesus on the cross, it was as if Jesus was looking directly at him. At that moment, it was as if he heard saying to him personally and tenderly; ‘Look at me on the cross. If I am here, it is because of you; it is because I love you.’ While at his lowest, Eugene experienced a hand stretching out towards him. He did not experience the cross as something fearful or negative, it was a place where the compassion, tenderness and healing of a loving God was fully revealed for him personally and intimately. For the rest of his life, Eugene never ceased to be amazed by this outpouring of unconditional love for him made real by God in Jesus on the cross.
The love, compassion and tenderness that Eugene experienced while looking at the cross is also offered to each of us today. Through the cross of Jesus, God says to each of us, ‘I love you with an everlasting love, I call you by your name you are mine, do not be afraid’. Through the cross, God looks at you and I with the same unconditional love with which he looked at Eugene. All we are asked to do is to stand before the cross as Eugene did so that we too can feel the outstretched hand of God touch and heal us.
What feelings does the Jesus on the cross bring to mind? How does the cross give me courage and support?
Today, take the time to slowly and prayerfully make the sign of the cross as you bless yourself.
Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
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