BEHOLD THE WOOD OF THE CROSS
“We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You; because by Your Cross You have redeemed the world.”
Today our gazes, our hearts and minds are turned to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The entire Church focuses on the wood of the Cross. In all the Churches and Cathedrals of the world one chorus is echoed to the highest heaven: “Behold the wood of the Cross on which hung the Saviour of the world. Come let us adore!” The Cross stands at the centre of today’s liturgy and dominates all our actions. It is a living testimony of God’s all-embracing loving forgiveness for humanity as a whole and for us individually. It is a sign of Jesus’ extension of that love of God made visible in the pains, the crucifixion and death of Our Lord. Jesus hung on the cross not simply to die. For if the cross had remained a bed of death He would not have been our Saviour. But the cross was a means to an end. This chunk of wood became alive because He Who could not be conquered by death made it a living abode. He turned the wood of shame and condemnation to a symbol of pride and justification. By the fact of His laying on it, the cross has become both a sign of victory and a mark of God’s forgiveness of the sins of His people.
Very soon, each of us will step forward to reverence the Cross. Why do we do that? We do so because each of us realises who Jesus is and what Jesus did for us on the Cross – there he shed His priceless, blameless and spotless Blood for us. He, Who was sinless, offered His life on the Cross to save sinful men. St. Paul reminds us that “while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 6, 8). We come to the foot of the Cross to experience the salvation and new life of grace that Jesus has won for us. We step forward to embrace the Cross because we know that even in our bruises and sinfulness that Jesus loves and welcomes us just as we are. We know that in us Jesus does not see the sinner, he sees so much more. At the foot of the Cross we stand with Mary, the Mother of Jesus; with John, the beloved apostles and with Mary of Magdala. We come to share in the sorrows that tore their hearts apart, to weep with them in this moment of pains and anguish, and open our wounded souls for them to comfort so that Our Lord can heal with the power of His words.
So dear friends, as we stand at the foot of Jesus we listen to those words the Jesus addresses to us and to our world today:
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Pope Francis writes: “God never tires of forgiving us. We are sometimes tired of asking for His forgiveness.” Each of us needs to be forgiven. But even more so we need to offer forgiveness to those who hurt and harm us, just as Jesus did. Our world stands in dire need of forgiveness. But even more so, we must drop all weapons of war and revenge. Let our swords be turned into ploughshares for “he who loves by the sword dies by the sword.”
We long to hear: “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” This is the reason we were created in the image and likeness of God – to be with the Blessed Trinity in eternity. Anything short of this is a failure on our part. Let us submit ourselves to our Saviour, Who shed His Blood on the Cross to save us, so that He may cleanse us and present us to God the Father in His heavenly Kingdom.
We come to hear those words: “Woman, behold thy son. Son, behold thy mother”. How secure it feels to be handed over to the protective hands of the Mother of the Saviour of the world! For the woman, who bore a Son that died for mankind cannot but love the ones her Beloved Son died for. And what an honour that the Mother of the Saviour of the world should offered to us to love and behold. Let us open our hearts to love this woman, whom Jesus first loved.
As we celebrate this day that recalls His death for us,
let us thank God for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ;
let us thank Jesus Christ for inviting us to the foot of His Cross;
let us thank Him for inviting us to embrace His redemptive love;
and let us thank Him for reconciling and restoring us with the Father.
Behold the wood of the Cross upon which hung the Saviour of the world. Come let us adore.