“The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
1 Cor. 1:18
When Mary presented Her Son in the Temple, Simeon spoke to Her; he told Her that this Child would be “a sign of contradiction” (cf.Lk3:34). And it is precisely on the Cross that these words find their eventual fulfilment. The message behind these words is the same as that behind the words of Saint Paul, given above.
This Cross, upon which hung the Saviour of the world, is a sign both of death and of life; of abject failure and of eternal glory; of weakness and of power. And for we who profess faith in Christ, it is the sign we are called to follow and also to bear in our own lives, so that with Saint Paul, we, too, might preach only Christ crucified. All of this, we recall every time we make the Sign of the Cross.
As we enter Church, as we begin our prayers, at the start of each Confession and every Mass, we make this Sign of the Cross. We mark ourselves with this symbol which is so intrinsically linked to Christ.
Numerous saints of the Church have recommended us to be devoted to the Cross. St Maximilian Kolbe, echoing St Francis de Sales, reminds us that the Cross is a school of love. Saint Augustine tells us that “the death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon Himself the death that He found in us, He has most faithfully promised to give us life in Him, such as we cannot have of ourselves”. St Ignatius Loyola said that “it is not the finest wood that feeds the fire of Divine love, but the wood of the Cross”.
Speaking at Mass this morning, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, reminded us that “Today the Church invites us to contemplate the Cross of Our Lord. Contemplating the Cross for us Christians means contemplating both a sign of defeat and a sign of victory”.
The Lord Himself sums it all up when He tells us in the Gospel – “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me”.
And so, if we are to truly follow the Lord, then the path before us is clear – it is the road of the Cross. Faithfulness to this path means that we slowly die to ourselves and begin to live ever more for the Lord alone.
It is for this reason that we today celebrate the ‘exaltation’ of the Holy Cross.
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee – because, by Thy Holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.