Love has conquered, therefore, Love shall be exalted forever.
In speaking about the Holy Cross we are not far removed from speaking about love. On today’s feast, the Exaltation (or Triumph) of the Holy Cross, love is on full display. He who is love hangs before us, crucified, having accomplished the greatest act of love for the fulfillment of the Father’s will and for our salvation.
Our Lord’s display of love, though, did not terminate on Calvary. He forever remains the crucified one. St. Thomas the Apostle testifies to this in the days after the Lord’s resurrection, declaring of Jesus while touching his wounds, “my Lord and my God.” Jesus’ glory from the resurrection onwards was inextricably tied to the wounds he carried. The New Testament further confirms this glory of the crucified Christ when St. John mentions that in heaven he “saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev 5:6). This vision of heaven reveals that Jesus still stands now as the wounded mediator between us and the Father in heaven offering himself completely for our sanctification.
We would do well then to realize that Jesus, donning his triumphant wounds, looks down on us, his brother and sisters, and sees our own wounds. We could even say that he is drawn to us in our great wounds and seeks to heal them because the great mercy of his Sacred Heart impels him. As St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us, likeness is a cause for love (ST I-II Q. 27 A. 3). As the one who first “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on the cross” (Phil 2:8), Jesus seeks us out as ones who have been humbled by our earthly trials and woes. He foretold that he would “draw all people to himself” (Jn 12:32). Therefore, in heaven he continues to care for all of the members of his mystical body, the Church. What this means for us now is that he is already bringing us to himself and healing our wounds so that we might become immaculate and share in his resplendent glory.
These truths are a cause for rejoicing in us because the trials we experience, those that weary us, do not have the last word. Now is the time for our restoration and exaltation in Christ Jesus by his grace. We are never alone. For we who have been baptized have been crucified with Christ (CCC 1227). To be wounded and poor means to be mounted on the wood of the Cross abiding with the Lord Jesus. Pope St. John Paul II beautifully expounded upon this great mystery saying:
“There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us. And on the far side of every cross we find the newness of life in the Holy Spirit, that new life which will reach its fulfillment in the resurrection. This is our faith. This is our witness before the world.” (St. John Paul II, Homily given in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore)
The Christian vocation, therefore, is a call to surrender to the frightening yet magnificent invitation to participate in the exaltation of the crucified Savior. Let us, then, continue the struggle of ascending the wood of the triumphant Cross where the bloodied sacrificial Lamb seeks to draw us up.
Image: Giotto, Crucifixion