Basic Information

Mass Location: St. Mary Magdalen Chapel, 2532 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Mass Time: Sunday 10 a.m. (check parish website bulletin for special feastdays which may be different)
Confessions: 9:00-9:45 a.m. - see schedule below

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homily - Exaltation of the Holy Cross - September 14, 2014

Phil. 2:5-11; Jn. 12:31-36

The cross is the fundamental sign of our faith.  We receive it at baptism, when the priest signs our foreheads with the cross.  And we use it all the time as a sign of the blessings of our salvation in Christ.
The cross is a sacrifice.  The nature of sacrifice is that one stands in the place of another.  Christ, by His sacrifice, stands in our place, taking on our weak and sinful human nature, so that, overcoming it by His power as God in the resurrection, we may stand in His place, freed from sin, beloved sons and daughters before the Father.  In the sacraments, this great exchange is carried forward in time.  We encounter it first in our baptism.  We encounter it again, as often as we assist at Mass, in the Eucharist, the unbloody sacrifice of Christ carried into time.

This is enough to make us ever grateful to God for such grace which He freely and gratuitously pours out upon.  But there is more.  It is, after all, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  But how can the cross be an exaltation?  St. Paul in the Epistle tells us the meaning of this paradox.  In order to bring about His sacrifice, the Son of God needed to assume a human body.  Therefore, He set aside, not His Godhead, but the glory of His Godhead, appearing as one like us in all things, but sin.  It is precisely when He is furthest from this glory, in the humiliation of the cross, that He triumphs.  He says in the Gospel, “Now is the judgment of the world.”  It appears that He is overcome, but it is sin which is overcome.

This means very much to us, for our salvation, but also for those moments when we face the mystery of our helplessness, when no one can help us, and we cannot even help ourselves.  We are united in this great exchange, where Christ, Who has emptied Himself of His glory and poured out His Blood and life for us.  In those moments, we can especially remember that He has become poor, so that we may become rich.  And that we can say with St. Paul, “It is when I am weak that I am strong,” strong with Christ, and, “In weakness, power reaches perfection.” 

This great exchange, this exaltation, is also the expression and the triumph of the love of God.  Love always unites.  When we love someone, we want to be with them, and when we are apart from them, we miss them.  And so it is with God.  When the time came for Him to give us the gift of salvation, He did not stay in His place in heaven, but He became one of us, setting aside the crown of His glory.  The greatest gift which anyone can give is the gift of themselves, and where there is love, no lesser gift will ever do.  And so it is with Christ, that, out of love, He gave Himself to us in His birth and incarnation; and He gave Himself to us, in the cross, that great exchange, where in a perfect union of love, He stands in our place, so that we may stand in His.  The exaltation of the holy cross is the triumph of the love of God.  His love is stronger than death.

The cross took place once in time, for all time; and in the Eucharist, the sacrament of the cross, the selfsame sacrifice is brought forward in time, and for our own time, and on this day.  The cross is the way He loved us then, the Eucharist is the way He loves us now.