Reflection for The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Readings From Numbers 21:4-9, Philippians 2:6-11, John 3:13-17
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church of New England
“We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world”On Monday the universal church celebrates the feast commemorating the finding of the sacred cross upon which Christ died by Saint Helen about the year 325-326
According to some records it seems that not only were the High Priests afraid that someone would steal the body of Christ and claim that he had risen as He said he would they not only convinced Pontius Pilot to post guards at the tomb of Christ, but they ordered some temple workers to go out and bury the cross Christ was crucified on so that no one would ever find it. These workers did not know which cross of the three they found was the correct one so they buried them all and then covered them with mounds of stone. Years later, the emperor Hadrian had a temple built on the hill of Golgotha to honor Aphrodite. The temple was built over the place where the crosses had been buried and covered also the place where Christ’s tomb was.
Saint Helen decided that she would undertake a search for the cross after her son Constantine had related the story of his vision of the cross which told him to fly it as a sign and he would be successful in his battle.
Upon her arrival in Jerusalem the venerable Saint Helen had no visible sign of where to look because the area had the temple built on it. She instructed that the temple be destroyed especially the statue of Aphrodite. She then was drawn to the area where the pile of stones were visible after the destruction of the temple and instructed workers to dig there. Three crosses were uncovered as well as nails and other items The excavators also found a tomb which they believed might have been the actual tomb of Christ, since records indicate that Christ was buried in a rock sepulcher close to the place of His crucifixion.
St. Helen could not be sure which cross was the true cross but Saint Marcarius, the Bishop of Jerusalem, suggested that they have a gravely sick woman brought near to the crosses and hoped that if one of them was the true cross, the woman would be healed. Upon touching the last of the three crosses, she was instantly healed. Saint Helen was so overjoyed she ordered her son to have a church built on the site and a major section of the cross was placed in a Silver casing and placed in the church while another section was brought to Constantinople. The cross remained in the church in Jerusalem until 614 when the Persians plundered Palestine and took the cross to their own country. In 628 the Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross and restored it to it’s rightful place.
Tiny Pieces of the cross have been scraped off from both original pieces and have been distributed over the years, usually imbedded in a replica of Christ crucified. The amazing thing is that the original major pieces have never shrunken in size. I, myself, have had a piece of the cross imbedded in the crucifix of my rosary beads since they were brought from Rome for me by my cousin Bishop Minnahan.
As the Gospel reading of John proclaims “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.’” and the reading from Philippians reminds us that; “Jesus Christ’s state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.”Let Us Pray; Through the sign of Your Holy Cross, protect your brothers and sisters, Lord Jesus Christ, from all the temptations of the evil one and lead us to a greater love for each other as you loved us.
It was by your cross, O Christ, that you redeemed all mankind from their sinful ways and opened up the gates of heaven to all who proclaim you. May we be welcomed into your presence when our time here on earth is over to join with all the Heavenly elect. AMEN