Feast of the Triumph of the Cross - homily
“We will never forget”. We heard our national motto regarding 9/11 much last week as we commemorated the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks. We will never forget that it was one of the most evil events in the history of the world. We will never forget the tremendous good that came out of that evil. We will never forget the many acts of heroism by men and women in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania that day. We will never forget the unity, patriotism, and spirituality of those days. Most importantly, we will never forget those who lost their lives that day. We never forget so that their spirit will always live among us.
Today, we celebrate the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. In today’s responsorial psalm, we heard, “do not forget the works of the Lord”. In a special way, we commemorate another evil event of immense proportions: the Crucifixion. We remember the works of the Lord, particularly the works of the Lord on the Cross. We celebrate this feast as a victory, for it is through the Cross of Christ that we have won victory over sin and death. It is through the Cross that we have the forgiveness of sins. It is through the Cross that we have been saved.
Today’s readings get right to the heart of what this feast is all about. In the second reading, St. Paul points out clearly and deeply what Christ did for us on the Cross in the beautiful canticle that is in his letter to the Phillipians. He says that Christ “emptied himself”, “humbled himself”, and became “obedient to the point of death” for us.
He emptied himself for us. Picture a glass of water being poured out; it is emptied completely with nothing left in it. Christ emptied himself completely for us. He poured himself out with nothing left. He gave every ounce of energy, every drop of blood for us.
He humbled himself for us, “taking the form of a slave”, a servant. The Cross is the greatest sign of humility the world has ever seen. Christ came down from his throne in Heaven to become one of us…to be humiliated for us. On the Cross, he was totally humiliated, naked, and vulnerable. Because of his humility, he has been exalted.
He became obedient to the point of death, “even death on a cross”. Christ always says yes to the Father. He always said yes to the Father’s Plan to save us. Today’s Gospel reveals the Father’s Plan: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him”. Jesus continued to say yes to saving yes, being obedient even to the point of death on a Cross.
There really shouldn’t be a day that goes by when we don’t remember what Jesus has done for us - even a simple, “thank you, Jesus”. When we come to Mass, we remember what Jesus did for us on the Cross, and that he gave his life for us. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we remember the works of the Lord; we remember all the blessings He has given us. In a special way, we remember his sacrifice on the Cross. It is in this remembering that He is made present among us. He is made present not just in spirit, but in body, blood, soul, and divinity under the signs of bread and wine by the power of the Spirit.
Let us never forget the works of the Lord, particularly the work of our salvation on the Cross. Let us remember this day and every day this week what Christ has done for us – that he emptied himself, humbled himself, and was obedient to death for each and every one of us.