We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered (Entrance Antiphon, Cf. Gal 6:14).
Today’s Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, one of the Church’s oldest, celebrates the triumph of God’s humility over man’s pride “for the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor 1:25). The first followers of our Lord evidently understood the centrality of the Cross; since the canticle that is our second reading today, taken from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, summarizes for us of the Mystery of the Cross: “Christ Jesus … emptied himself. … He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-11). This hymn is both a witness to the faith of the earliest Christians and a summary of what the Church believes about Christ our Lord. We call this Christology. The hymn successfully evokes all the phases of our Lord’s existence, from His pre-existence as the eternal Word of God, to His Incarnation, Passion and lastly, His glorification and exaltation as Lord. When we gaze upon the Crucified Lord we see before us the most concise and comprehensive statement about the Word made flesh. Jesus emptied himself. The term that is given to this self-emptying is kenosis, a Greek word that expresses the self-abasement of the eternal Word of God in the Redemptive Incarnation. In the kenosis, our Lord’s glory as the eternal Son of the Father is withheld, hidden. This affects every aspect of our Lord’s human existence in a manner not fully understood by us. The Gospels tell us however, that our Lord’s disciples were given glimpses of His glory, as in the Transfiguration and in the miracles He worked. The kenosis which defined our Lord’s earthly life extends in the life of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. The Church does not always reveal the wonders of God’s grace at work in the souls of the saints. This is why St. Paul wrote: “your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:3:4). The kenosis of the Son of God is the triumph of God’s humility and the path that defines our own life in Christ.
Throughout the ages those who have resolved to follow our Lord along the path of devout humility have in a variety of ways given expression to these words of the Apostle Paul:”But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). Christian discipleship is the embrace of the Cross, leading to a participation in its Mystery. We who endeavour to be disciples of Jesus can indeed participate in His sacrifice.