One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

September 14, 2006

For the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 14 September

John 3:13-17

Throughout the world, we venerate the Lord’s cross.
We display it as a treasure.
It is a paradox to celebrate the Cross— an instrument of humiliation, torture and execution.
Today in his Scriptures the Lord teaches us through paradox.
Just as Moses lifted up the image of a deadly serpent on a pole to heal the people of deadly snakebite that came as a punishment for their sin, so must God’s beloved Son be lifted up in death on a cross, that whoever believes in him may be healed of sin and death, and so gain eternal life.
He says that birth by water and Spirit gives us entry into eternal life in the kingdom of God.
He speaks also of coming down from heaven and going up to heaven, and then of “going up” or being “lifted up” on the Cross so that believers might have eternal life.
Finally he says:
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.…

… that the world might be saved through him.

We recognize that the death of Christ on the Cross is his payment of the penalty for our sins.
He did it for us.
However, our benefit is less than half of what took place on the Cross— less than half of what the Gospel reveals.
The Lord speaks of the Spirit who is birth and life.
Today the Lord also speaks of himself, the Son who has come down from the Father, receiving himself from the Father, and going up back to the Father with obedience and gratitude.
Finally the Gospel tells us of the Father who in love gives his Word, overflowing himself in his Son.
All of this— the mystery of Father, Son and Spirit— is present and real in the historical event of Good Friday’s Crucifixion.
This is why we always name the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as we make the sign of the Cross.
It is God who is Love lifted up on the Cross drawing all men to himself, drawing all men to his consummation of love.
That is what transfigures the Cross, making it attractive, a thing of beauty.
Not that a mere man suffered humiliation, torture and death on it— but that God in his love is infinitely free, willing and available to personally undergo, undertake and underlie all that is human even unto death.
This truth, this historical event has the power to draw all men, and to draw all that is in the hearts of men.
Our hearts, our minds and our bodies need to see, know, have, embrace and return this love emptying itself on the Cross— love absolutely present and absolutely consummated in history, in flesh and blood on the Cross.
The deepest event of God’s love in human history took place on the Cross.
On the Cross: all that is human was offered up in love; and all that is divine was offered up in our humanity by Christ.
This is the triumph of the Cross— a triumph that has embraced the deepest human poverty— death— and has transfigured it into the act of God’s love.
In the sign and instrument of the Eucharist, we have the real presence of Christ in his flesh and blood offered up in the triumph of love on the Cross.
On the Cross and in the Lord’s Body and Blood:
the power of the Spirit gives us birth and life in God;
the Father reveals and gives his love;
and the Son offers himself and our own humanity,
through the power of the Spirit,
to the Father with obedience and gratitude.
On his Cross, in his Resurrection, Ascension and Eucharist, Christ is our God, our transfiguration and our salvation.

That God Be Glorified in All


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