Fr. Rick’s Two-Minute Homily for Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
September 14, 2023, John 3:13-17
Don’t Be Afraid of the Sting
In every Catholic Church and Chapel throughout the world, we are celebrating today an instrument of execution called “The Exaltation of the Cross.” The Romans adopted this most torturous form of execution from the Chinese. The Chinese reserved it for the worst of criminals.
How does God take something so evil and cruel and change it into the central symbol of our Catholic Faith and the sign of our salvation? I like the story Brennan Manning told in his book, The Signature of Jesus.
“While meditating under a big tree on the bank of a river, an old man saw a scorpion floating helplessly on the river. The man quickly stretched himself out on one of the tree’s long roots, reaching out to rescue the drowning creature.
“As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively, the man pulled away. But as soon as he regained his balance, he stretched out again to save the scorpion. Again, he was stung for his efforts so severely that his hand swelled up most painfully.
‘’A passerby who had seen all that had happened called out, “Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of such a creature.” Calmly, the man replied, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save.”
There’s no getting around it that Jesus did not want to have to do this. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane to let the cup of suffering pass him by. Only a free, pure act of sacrificial love stops evil and sin in its tracks.
Like the scorpion, the nature of sin and evil is to destroy. The nature of Jesus is to save and give life to the one who sins. Until we embrace his perfect love for us and turn away from our sins, there is no Exaltation of the Cross. Let us not fear the sting we might feel when facing the truth of our sinfulness. It’s only a tiny cross of suffering compared to what Jesus carried for us. May our crosses of death become trees of life and a source of salvation for many.
Being a disciple of Jesus is all grace; there’s only one place we can get it: being with the Lord daily. Spend some precious time with Him. Only God can change our hearts and what they value.
IGNITE THE FIRE!
Father Rick Pilger, I.C.