Daily Reflection
September 14th, 1999
Kathy Kanavy
Institute for Priestly Formation
The Feast of the Holy Cross
Numbers 21:4-9
Philippians 2:6-11
John 3:13-17 

Have you ever had one of those days where life felt like it was too much?  You know, the expectations were too demanding, the struggles too insurmountable, the pain too much.  Recently, I have been with some people I love in painful life circumstances and I have been privileged to see faith in the midst of tragedy.  And I see two ways of responding amidst suffering: one is in trying hard to fix the pain alone; the other is in relying upon God.  Who these people and who you and I rely upon in our daily struggles, namely upon ourselves or upon God, makes all the difference in the world—and in our hearts.

Today we celebrate the feast of the “Triumph of the Cross” or the “Holy Cross”.   We celebrate, in hiddenness, the awe of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection in the middle of an ordinary week.  It appears that the Church, in its mere placement of this feast, expresses its import: that Jesus’ Cross saves, precisely in the midst of life and death issues, marital family tragedies and joys, financial and career struggles, trust and fear.  In the middle of our messy days, Jesus comes to love us.

John’s Gospel today recounts Jesus speaking to Nicodemus about the Son of Man being lifted up “that all who believe may have eternal life in Him.”  Then, with tenderness He speaks what we so need to hear, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life.  God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

There is a beautiful meditation in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola where the person is invited to imagine God (the Trinity) looking down on the world.  The Persons of the Trinity see the world in all its diversity--with people weeping, laughing, sick, well, struggling in various circumstances-- and say, “Let us work the redemption of the human race.”  This prelude to the Annunciation and the Incarnation reveals God seeing us in desperate need of His Love that is utterly self-giving.  God cannot help but come to us, even to the depth of taking on human form and in dying, so that we might be with Him forever.  Today’s feast celebrates this truth.  Jesus, in deep love, gave His life for us in the midst of our struggles.

In the opening, I mentioned that who you and I rely upon makes so much difference.  The truth of today’s feast is that Jesus has saved us and the world.  What we are invited to today and everyday is to pray for the grace to have the humility to let Him save us.  We choose between fixing life’s struggles by ourselves or letting Jesus lead us in His way.  We know that here lies the joy we all long to experience more, the joy of knowing we are loved beyond our imaginings.  In Him, even in the midst of suffering, “all shall be well.”   

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