Friday, September 15 2023
September 14 is always Holy Cross Day. This day marks a feast in honor of the Cross upon which Jesus Christ was crucified. But why September 14? Wasn’t Good Friday sometime in the spring, shouldn’t that be Holy Cross Day? That’s a great question! The September 14 date commemorates three events: the finding of the True Cross in AD 326 by Queen Helena, the Christian mother of Emperor Constantine; the dedication of churches soon after built by Emperor Constantine at Holy Sepulchre and Mount Calvary; and the restoration of the True Cross at Jerusalem in AD 629 by Byzantine Emperor Heraclius after it was taken by the Persians. Unfortunately, much of the Cross supposedly found by Queen Helena is now lost, with only fragmented relics claimed to be of the Cross now found throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. By the Reformation, John Calvin is noted as having said that there were so many relics of the True Cross that they could build a ship.
So this week, the readings present us with a beginning framework of reconciliation and forgiveness. It is through the Cross that Jesus Christ reconciled himself, as God the Son, to us. How are we to exactly forgive someone 77 times? How are we to relate with those who hurt us, or who we hurt? We seek the way of Jesus first and that way begins with his work on the Cross. God Himself has reconciled himself to his people. He has forgiven sin once and for all. That of course means we cannot abuse this gift. As one priest colleague put outside his church, “Enjoy your forgiveness.” Indeed, enjoy it! Because the freedom found therein can help us not only build bridges, but repair broken ones that need repairing, that need the healing love that Christ offers for us on the Cross. The Cross is a moment in history which affects us eternally. It is the way through troubled times as the perfect symbol of reconciliation and forgiveness this world so often needs.
Yours in Christ,