The agonizing and saving truth of Christ’s Crucifixion is recalled in the ancient Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Piety so he can confront the horrible cost of Christ’s Crucifixion on the Cross and grow in the Virtue of Charity so he can bless and evangelize others by the Sign of the Cross. 

Commentary

Nicodemus, a member of the ruling Jewish council (Sanhedrin) is impressed and approaches Jesus in the night, seeking illumination. Jesus reveals His true identity and mission, cryptically pointing to His Crucifixion and the salvation of all who believe in Him through the Resurrection. 

Jesus’ revelation about the Son of Man is astounding because only God Himself could know these things: the Son of Man comes from Heaven, is God’s Son, knows God’s intentions for the Incarnation and the salvation of men, etc.  To help Nicodemus grasp the salvation which flows from His Crucifixion on the Cross, Jesus recalls during the Exodus, God required those bitten by poisonous snakes to gaze upon the bronze serpent Moses raised up (Num 21:4-9); so too will men have to believe in the Crucified Jesus, raised on the Cross, to receive eternal life; men who refuse to believe in Jesus, the only Son of God, are condemned (omitted v 18).

From the Church’s earliest days, the Cross of Jesus was held with supreme reverence because it was a startling symbol of Christ’s sacrifice and man’s salvation (1 Cor 1:17, Gal 6:14, Eph 2:16). After the Crucifixion, the Christ’s Cross was preserved in Jerusalem for over 300 years until it was discovered by St. Helena, the mother of the first Catholic emperor Constantine. Fragments of the “True Cross”, found near the Holy Sepulcher (Jesus’ tomb), were maintained in Jerusalem and also transported to Rome and Constantinople. The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross has been celebrated since at least the 7th Century; fragments of the True Cross continue to be venerated in numerous locations.   

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Find peace and courage in what the Son of God reveals to give men Hope: God, the Father, so loves the world that He gives His only-begotten Son up for a horrific death on the Cross so men might return to Him; the Son of God is the Savior, with the Divine Power to give men eternal life and save them from damnation; men, to receive the blessings in this life and next, simply need to repent, have faith and seek Jesus (the Light).

Confront the horrible cost of the Cross

Realize: Because the Cross is so familiar (the Sign of the Cross, Crucifixes, artwork, etc.), a Catholic man can lose sight of the cruel and astounding brutality of the Cross; Jesus freely chose to have His hands and feet nailed to a wooden cross and slowly suffocate to death. 

Believe: Reflect upon Christ’s Cross (CCC 440, 550, 561, 616-618, 853, 1182) 

Pray: Jesus, Crucified Christ, help me build the Virtue of Piety (a part of Justice) so I somberly remember Your horrible and brutal death on the Cross, and I honor Your holy sacrifice by diligently preparing and reverently receiving You in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  

Bless and evangelize by the Sign of the Cross

Realize: Christ’s glorious sacrifice on the Cross is kept ever present (at Mass, in blessings, prayers before meals, etc.) by the tradition of frequently making the Sign of the Cross, a holy act which both sanctifies and evangelizes others.

Believe: Reflect upon The 2nd Commandment in the reverent making of the Sign of the Cross (CCC 555, 1235, 1671, 2142-2167).

Pray: Jesus, Crucified Christ, help me build the Virtue of Charity so I show my love to You and many others by making the solemn and powerful Sign of the Cross many times a day, in obedience and hope many others may be blessed and drawn to You and Your Holy Catholic Church.