Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation or Triumph of the Cross.
In many ways, in the eyes of the world, the triumph of the cross is an oxymoron. Crucifixion was one of the most cruel ways to execute criminals that the Romans used, since it was often a slow death by asphyxiation. To call it a triumph seems stupid – pure folly.
And so it is.
That is also the message of the second reading for today’s Mass, Philippians 2: 6-11:
[Jesus] emptied himself,
talking the form of a slave,
…he humbled himself
becoming obedient unto death,
even death on a cross.
Jesus showed us the way of downward mobility and solidarity with the despised of the world.
This is a way that can bring joy – now and in eternity.
Last night as I read the First Vespers of the Feast I remembered the day when St. Thomas gave me a mission cross. It is a large cross which had belonged to Msgr. James Supple, the founder of St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center, who spent many years there, first as pastor, than as retiree (though he hardly retired until he died.)
Father Ev Hemann, the pastor in 2007 who died this year, gave me the cross at the weekend Masses. On the back are inscribed these words of St. Thomas Aquinas:
If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because He Himself is the way.
So today I feel a desire to recommit myself to my mission, to take Christ, walking the way with him in the byways of rural Honduras, sharing the cross of the impoverished and oppressed.
ADDENDUM: This morning I got a call to bring the Eucharist with me when I go out to a meeting of one of the zones of Dulce Nombre parish – sharing Christ with God’s people.