Daily Reflection
September 14th, 2000
Richard Super
History Department
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Triumph of the Holy Cross - Feast 
Numbers 21:4-9
Psalms 78:1-2, 34-38
Philippians 2:6-11
John 3:13-17

For some years, the crucifix hanging in my home has been a favorite of mine, partly because it was handed down to me by my parents, but more so because of its particular depiction.  Instead of the traditional portrayal of Christ beaten, bloodied and in the throes of an agonizing death, this one shows a stylized Jesus in all His glory, draped in flowing robes, his limbs stretched out straight and strong along the beams, as if the cross was a throne for a king, rather than the tool for an executioner.  This crucifix is presentation of the feast that is celebrated by the Church in its liturgy today—The Triumph of the Holy Cross.

The cross as triumph?  That’s not the way I would normally view it.  Normally, I “behold the Man” as he hangs there, naked and pierced, scorned and rejected by his own people, the figure of defeat.  How devastating it must have been to be one of His followers, to have lived with him, loved Him and believed in Him only to see Him, as Paul described it, having “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,” dying there like that.  In that pose, Christ is to me  sacrificial victim, sent by His Father to die for me in forgiveness for my sins.  I grieve and I am sorry.

It is when I contemplate the cross as victory that the crucifixion becomes so much more.  Then I see it as the culmination of God’s supreme act of love for me, an act that began with the Nativity when He became a man like me to then live out His humanity in its fullness and to end it by humbling Himself, “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  It is then that I see it as validation of all that He came to teach me, that to follow Him is to love Him and to love Him is to serve others.  Most of all, as a victory over intolerance, injustice, greed and self-absorption, it becomes an act of triumphal redemption. However often I might stumble in life, I know that it is done, that I have already been redeemed.  I rejoice and I am glad.

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