The Holy Cross
The cross that Jesus was crucified on came from dead wood, cut down from what was once a life-giving tree. In every Mass, we celebrate Jesus, who accepted his death, rose from dead wood and brought us new life. In September 320 A.D. Emperor Constantine The Great’s mother, Empress Helena, reportedly found pieces of the original cross in the tomb where Jesus was buried. On Thursday, September 14th we celebrate this event with a feast called «The Exaltation of the Holy Cross» or simply the «Feast of the Cross». In the time of Jesus the cross was a sign of shame and murder. After his resurrection it quickly became a symbol of glory, salvation and life. In the Gospel Reading for the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (September 3) Jesus says to his disciples that “whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Sounds like pain and suffering to me, something that most of us would run from. It’s human nature to run from something that brings pain, suffering and even death. Our challenge as Christians - as followers of Christ - is to accept carrying our cross as a way of gaining new life. It doesn’t make the pain go away or the suffering any easier but it can give our life a new meaning or shine light on a difficult situation bringing a new perspective which can lead to acceptance. No one chooses suffering or death as positive elements in their life, but as Christians, we regularly deny ourselves for the good of others. If we don’t, we end up living in an egotistical world where everyone thinks only of themselves. Jesus did suffer and he did die on the cross, but he rose to new life – not just for you and me but for the entire world. As we raise the cross up and celebrate the life it gives, let us try to embrace our own struggles and suffering as a way of gaining new life. Reflect on your experiences and encounters and share the new life it brings to others.