Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross Hebrews 4.14-5.6
Mark 8.34-9.1 (take up their cross and follow me)
Glory to Jesus Christ.
I tremble to speak to you about the Cross,
about the mystery of salvation obtained by Jesus Christ through death
on the Cross? Am I a worthy disciple of Christ? Do I choose with truth
to follow Him? The apostles and many of the first and later Christians
were true disciples of Christ, though, at times, they failed. Peter
reproaches Jesus for foretelling the Cross. We are today among those
who, at times, probably many times, fail to acknowledge the Cross. Our
predecessors did not give up. Will we give up? Jesus presents his
Cross to us today, and says: “If you are ashamed of me, of my words,
of my Cross, I will be ashamed of you when I come with my angels.”
Christ’s Cross proclaims to us that we have failed in many ways. His
Cross tells us that we have sinned, that we have ignored, openly
refused, so many graces proposed by God. Jesus is crucified for me.
Jesus takes on his Cross for me. Jesus loses his life for me.
As we heard in the Epistle to the Hebrews: Jesus undergoes all sorts of
humiliations, the humiliation of the Cross, to come to me where I am,
he comes to me who am weak before temptations. The great priesthood of
Jesus consists precisely in bringing help to me at that very place
where are my weaknesses and failings. We have not yet met Christ, if
we have not met Jesus on the Cross. This challenge is pregnant with
infinite graces: his Cross is the path to eternal life and
resurrection. This is God’s doing.
On the Byzantine icon of the Cross,
Christ has not the body of a corpse, but the tranquil and gentle body
of God radiating the hope of the Resurrection. Jesus is not hanging on
the Cross, but rather supporting it. His hands are not cramped from
being nailed to the wood, but spread out serenely in an attitude of
supplication. Jesus suffered His passion voluntarily and was at all
times the master of life and death. This glorious presence does not
occur without Jesus’ fresh challenge of today. Are you willing to take
up your Cross? Are you willing to lose your life for my sake and the
sake of the Gospel? … in preference to all dreams of accomplishment
that you have or have had, that stick to you, that you will have
It would be presumptuous on our part to say: “I am ready to
greet you and to follow you. I want to take up my Cross. I want to
lose my life for you and for your Gospel.” Yet God is truly asking
these questions. He is asking faith in the Cross as big as a mustard
seed, faith that the Cross on the Golgotha is coming to my help, and
more than that, that through the Cross Jesus is making himself my
gentle and serene companion, He is walking with me, carrying me, right
from where I am today in all the inextricable bonds imprisoning me.
And He is leading me up to the glory of heaven: His Cross is my glory.
Today may the Cross of Christ not be emptied of its meaning. May the
Cross of Christ be power of God… for me to be saved. Following St
Paul, may I never boast except in the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Because Jesus humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death
on a Cross, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that
is above every name, and that at the name of Jesus and before the
Cross of Jesus every knee bend, of those in heaven and on earth and
under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. The prophet Jeremiah has a mysterious
word in his chapter 11, vs 19. That verse starts: “ Like a docile lamb
I am brought to the slaughter”… and then there is this mysterious
expression: “the wood is in your bread”. The Fathers of the Church
have understood that the wood of the Cross is in the bread of the
Eucharist, that Holy Consecrated Bread which you will receive in a few
minutes. Also, each time you kiss the Cross, it is something of the
Bread of Life that you are kissing. When I kiss the Cross, I am
celebrating the overthrow of hell. This temple has become a second
Paradise, having within it the tree of life, the Cross. By touching
the Cross I share in immortality, by touching the Cross, I am asking
Jesus that I may adore His upcoming Holy Passion and attain, if
possible, the Resurrection.
Glory to Jesus Christ.
Homily Given 3.12.2023.