This is the time we are standing at the crossroads. We had in the past crossed many a hurdle, overcome treacherous terrains, passed hidden dangers and finally reached this point in our journey. While standing at the crossroads we are tempted to look at the many roads promising us of comfortable passage through the lush green meadows ahead. They are brimming with men of all hues hurrying to reach the destination of their choice. And, of course, there is another narrow path just enough for a man to pass with great difficulty and which is not frequented by travellers.
We, having decided to take this less traversed path, are ever reminded of our constant companion in this arduous journey; THE CROSS. Cross is always remembered for its salvific value. It is the deathbed of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was on these two pieces of wood that Jesus celebrated his victory over the devil. It has been the most prominent symbol of Christian faith through centuries.
We attach great importance to crosses, be it crucifixes or simple crosses. Tradition says that Queen Helena, the mother or Emperor Constantine set out to locate the original cross on which Jesus was crucified. We are familiar with the narration of how they distinguished Jesus’ Cross from the crosses of the thieves. When a dying woman touched the cross of our Saviour she was miraculously healed. Shortly thereafter Emperor Constantine built the Church of Sepulchre and the Church at Calvary. We celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on 14th September to commemorate the discovery of the Original Cross, consecration of these two churches and also the recovery of the Cross from the Persians who took hold of it for a short while during the seventh century.
Why should we venerate the Cross? To say it is because Jesus Christ bought us salvation through the cross is an understatement. The truth is that he brought our salvation by paying the highest price which any person has ever paid in human history, the Holy Blood of the Son of God! For us Christians, saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Cross should be identified in four different ways.
Firstly it is the Cross of Love. Out of his love towards us only, Jesus selected this instrument of torture for his sacrifice. Before ascending it he commanded us to love one another. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Secondly it is the Cross of Forgiveness. While going through the most excruciating pain, what Jesus did was to pray for those who crucified him
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Again he assured forgiveness to a criminal who was crucified with him “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). In the only prayer he taught his disciples, Jesus tells them to forgive their debtors as a condition to beseech God’s forgiveness.
Thirdly, it is the Cross of Truth because Jesus is the ultimate truth. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Book of Revelation tells about certain people who stood by truth till the last moment. ‘They have been redeemed from human kind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless’ ( Rev. 14:5).
Fourthly, it is the Cross of Humility. ‘Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross’ ( Phil. 2:6-8).
‘Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name’ (Phil. 2:9). If God the Father exalted Jesus because he humbled himself to the point of a horrible death on a cross, what other reason do we need to venerate the Cross, which is the Tree of Life?
Remember that we are standing at the crossroads from where many roads lead to perdition, but only one leads to eternal bliss. Also remember that we are looking forward to see the sign of the Son of Man appearing in heaven. To muster the courage to stand before the Son of Man on that great day, we should start our journey right now carrying our own crosses. Needless to say, that day is not far.
Let us take a decision to pursue the road of the cross at the crossroads. May the Crucified Christ give us the strength to carry our crosses till we cross the gates of the New Heaven and the New Earth promised to us.
Let us pray:
Oh, Adorable Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, You have suffered death on the Cross for our sins.
Oh, Holy Cross of Jesus, be my true light!
Oh, Holy Cross, fill my soul with good thoughts.
Oh, Holy Cross, ward off from me all things that are evil.
Oh, Holy Cross, ward off from me all dangers and sudden death and give me life everlasting!
Oh, Crucified Jesus of Nazareth, have mercy on me now and forever.
In honor of the Precious Blood of Jesus, his death, resurrection and ascension which leads to everlasting life; true as Jesus was born on Christmas Day; true as Jesus was crucified on Good Friday; true as Joseph and Nicodemus took Jesus down from the cross and buried Him; true as Jesus ascended into Heaven; may He preserve me from my enemies visible and invisible forever.
Oh, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me! Mary and Joseph pray for me.
Lord Jesus Christ, through Your suffering in the Cross grant me strength to bear my Cross without fear or dread and give me the grace that I may follow You. Amen.