Thursday, 18 September 2014

Exaltation of the Holy Cross 14 Sep 2014 Sermon

Exaltation of the Holy Cross 14.9.14

Every organisation has some sort of emblem or logo that announces who it is. The most recognizable symbol of the Christian faith is the Cross.

The choice of the Cross might seem a strange one, given that it highlights suffering. And most organisations would not try to attract interest that way.

Yet we have crosses everywhere. In churches, homes, on rosary beads, large and small. And we make the Sign of the Cross at regular intervals. We are thus reminded of how central the Cross is to our whole lives.

There are those who would tell us to remove the Cross. To the Jews a scandal, to the Greeks, madness, as St Paul puts it.

A ‘scandal’ to some because it emphasizes death, and apparent defeat. ‘Madness’ to others, because why would you emphasise pain when pleasure is the quest?

Many admire the general teachings of Christianity but cannot endure the idea of sacrifice or suffering. Take the cross away and all will be fine, they say. So people have always been trying to take Christ off the cross; others trying to take the Cross away altogether.

We will not try to remove either. Instead we hope to honour and exalt the Cross; to understand and live by it. For what it is, and what it has done.

What it is: The Cross is both the worst and the best moment in human history.

The worst because it is when the human race tried to murder God.

The best because it is when humanity (in the person of Jesus, as Man) made the most perfect response to the will of God.

What the Cross does: it reconciles humanity to divinity. So perfect was the human response (in Jesus) that all other breaches with God (past, present and future) would be more than compensated for by this one perfect act.

The Cross makes it possible for all our sins to be forgiven, on request. It is like having a bank account that never runs dry. In this case it is mercy not money that we can draw upon.

The more we appreciate what Our Lord has done for us the more fully His action will save us.

Consider: that He did not have to die for us at all. It was not His problem that we were in sin. He could have stayed in the comfort of Heaven and let us go our own way.

Consider further just how painful His death was. He died in His humanity. He was not miraculously preserving Himself from pain. He was allowing Himself to feel the full extent of nails, thorns, whips etc.

And even worse, the emotional pain of rejection and ridicule.

And worse still, the realization that even this sacrifice would not be appreciated by future generations.

All this for our benefit.

We acknowledge with reverence and awe the contrast between His love for us and our lack of love for Him.

And as we realize it we can resolve to narrow that chasm. We will never love Him as He loves us, but we can at least draw closer.

And instead of piling on lashes and thorns to Him by our own sins we can offer Him consolation, as did Veronica and the women of Jerusalem.

And further, we not only stand with Jesus, but we also share in His suffering to the extent that we make Him known in our place and time.

Thus the Cross is everything to us. It is our salvation and our way of life. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world (Ga 6,14).

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