Homily for the Feast of the Holy Cross - Jn. 3:13-17
Father Daniel Meynen
" Jesus said, 'No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.'
" For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him."
" Jesus said, 'No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.' "
Today we celebrate the Cross of Christ: we honor in a special way this creature, which God himself made and which he chose to be the altar of his redeeming sacrifice! Associated with God as he offered himself for us on Calvary, the Cross of Christ deserves to receive our veneration because it served as the means through which it became possible for us to obtain salvation in the Blood of Christ!
In today's gospel, Jesus, who will speak to us about his elevation on the Cross of Calvary, first directs our thoughts to Heaven: he associates his elevation on the Cross with his elevation into Heaven. Thus, he unites, in his discourse, the day of his death and that of his Ascension into heaven. He does not want us to separate the entry of his soul into eternal bliss from the entry of his body into endless glory! He also does not want his voluntary humbling in the ignominy of the Cross to be dissociated from his elevation into glory at the time of his triumphal entry into Heaven!
" 'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.' "
Jesus was lifted up on the Cross in order that we might obtain eternal life! Now, we who believe in Christ and who follow him are the members of his Body, as St. Paul wrote. That is, through faith, and to the extent that we believe in Christ, we are united with him: we are one body, of which he is the Head. So if the Head, he who walks ahead of the others and who leads them, underwent the trial of the Cross, how could those who are the members, and who follow the Head, avoid undergoing the Cross themselves?
It is impossible! We too must undergo the way of the Cross! But do we want to do so? Is that what we desire? Do our natural tendencies not ceaselessly lead us to the pursuit of happiness and pleasure? Yes, of course! And all of this can be legitimate and good. Do we fully understand what was done by Jesus, who freely offered himself to undergo this infamous death? Does this not seem folly to us, the folly of the Cross of which Saint Paul speaks (1 Cor. 1:18)? Certainly, all of this surpasses us, for it is a Mystery, the "Mysterium Crucis"! So the Lord asks us to simply believe that this is the way that saves, that this is the door of Heaven!
" For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
After Jesus' discourse, Saint John, who was at the foot of the Cross on the day of the Lord's death, comments on the words of the Master. He reveals to us the soul of the Cross, its spirit, that which led Jesus to die in this manner: "God so loved the world..." The Cross manifests to all men God's love for the world, for this world that God calls to serve him and to praise him! The glory of this instrument of torture lies in this: that it shows to all the men and women of the earth that the love of God goes to the point of folly, the folly of the Cross!
During this Sunday Mass, we will receive communion. Let us unite ourselves to Christ on his way of the Cross in order that we might be worthy of the eternal life he promises us! Let us firmly believe that the love of God surpasses anything we could imagine! Let us ask Mary for these graces! She stood at the foot of the Cross, watching her Son die: so may She be our model of love for God and men!