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Celebrating the Feast of the Holy Cross

Since we are celebrating the Feast of the Holy Cross and this is Holy Cross Church I will talk about the cross today.

What if a tour group of Hindu and Buddhist people was visiting our church today? What would they see? They would see crosses everywhere. They would see a cross over the front door before they entered the building. They would see the very large cross on the front wall of our church. They would see the Stations of the Cross all around the walls of our church. They would see a cross at the end of each pew.

They would see us making the sign of the cross at the beginning of our liturgy. They would see us making the sign of the cross on our foreheads, on our lips and over our hearts before the Gospel is proclaimed. They would see the priest making the sign of the cross over the bread and wine during the Eucharistic Prayer. And they would see all of us making the sign of the cross during the final blessing.

I’m sure that they would be puzzled by our fixation with the cross. They would wonder why we are giving the cross such a prominent place in our lives. And we would say that the cross signifies what Jesus did and what Jesus said on the cross on Good Friday.

We see how he felt compassion for the thief who was repentant. Jesus said to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” That reminds us of how compassionate Jesus was. He showed mercy to the one who was repentant.

During his time on the cross he prayed for the soldiers, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” That reminds us of how forgiving he was. He even forgave those who nailed him to the cross.

Before he died Jesus said a prayer and his prayer was a lamentation. Jesus prayed the words of Psalm 22: “My God, my God! Why have you abandoned me?” Those words and that prayer remind us that Lamentation is a perfectly valid form of prayer. Why? Because lamentations keep us in a close relationship with God when we are hurting the most. His lamentation kept Jesus in close relationship with his Heavenly Father.

Before he died Jesus said, “Father, I place my life into your hands.” That shows us how trusting he was. Jesus trusted that God would do something good with his life after he died. And his trust paid off because God lifted him up and gave him a New Life, the life that we call Resurrection.”

The bottom line is this: The cross is not important in and of itself. It is merely two pieces of wood nailed together. The cross is important because it points to a person and that person is Jesus and Jesus shows us how to live.

During his time on the cross Jesus shows us how to be compassionate, following his example of feeling the pain of the good thief; He shows us how to forgive, following his example of forgiving the soldiers who nailed him to the cross; He shows us how to pray in times of the most severe pain. And he shows to place our trust in God, following his example of placing his life into the hands of His Heavenly Father.

I will close with a short summary: Today we honor the Holy Cross and take to heart the challenges that Jesus extends to us from the cross. He calls us to be trusting, prayerful, compassionate and forgiving. We pray now that these virtues will become stronger in our hearts and in our lives. Trusting, prayerful, compassionate and forgiving.

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