17 September 2017
The Exaltation Of The Holy Cross
First Reading: Numbers 21: 4-9
Second Reading: Philippians 2: 6-11
Gospel: John 3: 13-17
Jesus absorbed all the hatred, all the violence, all the evil that could be poured forth upon him. There was no worse execution than being executed on a cross. It was an instrument of hate, but Jesus responded only with love, the way of love. “I, when I am lifted up, will draw all people to myself.” That’s the way of Jesus.
That’s the way that brings us fullness of life, absorbing hatred and evil, placing it within ourselves and never responding to evil with evil, never responding to hatred with hatred, but always responding to evil with good; responding to hatred with love.
That’s the way we need to respond as a nation in the world. Because hatred only begets more hatred, every time you go to war, you always leave behind a trail of hatred and resentment that makes it all the more difficult to resolve the problems that provoked the war.
The only answer is the way of love, the way of Jesus. And that’s what we learn from today’s feast. When we exalt the cross, we’re not exalting that instrument of hatred, violence and death; we’re exalting how Jesus transformed that instrument into an instrument of love, goodness and life, and that’s the way of the cross we must try to follow.
[Bishop Gumbleton preached at Stella Maris Parish in Egg Harbor, Wis.]