The Exaltation of the Holy Cross – Feast

The tragedy of Calvary and the Cross of Christ has remained my spiritual source/power. The meaning that I could make in light of my religious/spiritual development, cultural understanding, and family dynamics is that God is at the center of my life encounters from birth to this physical world, to my spiritual discovery and reawakening when I was 25 years old, “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jer.1:5). Personal religious encounter with the Lord on February 12th, 1996, during my seminary formation days, I dreamed the appearance of Jesus bleeding profusely and the blood was dazzlingly amazing. This life-giving experience from the cross impacted/changed my life in every ramification and enhanced my determination/ stronger decision to embrace the call to the ministry and has continued to impact positively my spiritual growth and development, my priestly life and ministry.

The Triumph of Failure

In the time of Jesus no one would have considered crucifixion a triumph or a win of any sort. It may have been considered a triumph for those who were doing the crucifying; it certainly would never have been considered a triumph for the person crucified.

Triumph of Love

It was a triumph of love over hatred. As John the evangelist says in today’s gospel, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.’ Jesus revealed God’s love in all that he said and did, but he revealed God’s love most fully on the cross. John the evangelist would say that on the cross Jesus revealed God’s glory. That is why in John’s gospel Jesus speaks of his coming crucifixion as the hour when he is glorified. Authentic love is always life-giving and that is uniquely so of God’s love.

Triumph of Life Over Death

As well as being the triumph of love over hatred, the cross of Jesus is the triumph of life over death. Jesus was put to death in the most cruel way but through his death he passed over into a new life and that life was offered to us all. The blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus in John’s gospel speaks to us of the life that flows through the death of Jesus. The cross has been celebrated in art as the tree of life.

Triumph Over the Devil

The triumph of the cross, which is the triumph of God and of Jesus over Satan and all the forces of evil and death, is a triumph in which we all share. From the cross Jesus draws all of us into the love and life of God. As he says in John’s gospel, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself. We simply have to let ourselves be drawn by him and try to absorb the paschal meaning of whatever suffering comes our way, trusting that powerful grace flows from the Cross. Of course, we don’t just focus on our own crosses and the burdens of life. The Cross of Christ empowers us to share in the struggle against oppressors of every sort. We can best honor his cross today if, like Him, we stand up for those in our times who are unjustly treated and marginalized.

[Readings: Nm 21: 4b-9; Phil 2: 6-11; Jn 3: 13-17]

Fr. Nnaemeka Paschal Ajuka

Fr. Nnaemeka Paschal Ajuka, PhD., BCC; is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, Nigeria. He is currently a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) and the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). He is a retreat preacher who loves his faith. As a sociologist, he cherishes and operates from the vertical and horizontal relationships with God and neighbor. He takes Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer for peace “Lord make me an Instrument of Peace,” as his ministry mission statement. Currently, he is a caregiver with the department of Spiritual care department, Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN a member of Gratia Vobis Ministries board of directors.

2 Comments

  1. sue on September 14, 2021 at 11:13 am

    I will pray for all of you who have taken up the mantel of Christ and walk with HIM and for HIM bringing HIS TRUTH to all mankind.

  2. JEANETTE Y TULLIS on September 15, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    Inspirational discourse well taken.

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