Following Christ Crucified on the Path of Consecrated Love, Exaltation of the Cross, September 14, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
September 14, 2015
Num 21:4-9, Ps 78, Phil 2:6-11, Jn 3:13-17

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click below: 




The following points were attempted: 

  • The Year of Consecrated Life is an opportunity for us to look at all the feasts of the liturgical year from the key of consecration and to look at the consecrated life itself from the prism of that feast. Today’s feast of the Exaltation of the Cross of Jesus gives us a chance to deepen in our knowledge of this feast as well as of the consecrated life by understanding each from the perspective of the other.
  • Jesus is the supreme Consecrated One and in today’s second reading we see how he consecrated himself so that we might be consecrated in the truth: he humbled himself, taking on our human nature, and becoming obedient even to death on the Cross. He became the like serpent lifted up so that all of us, bitten and dying because of the poison of sin like the Israelites in the desert, might see what our sins have done,  beg God’s mercy and receive it. The consecrated life which begins in baptism is an entrance into Jesus’ consecration. We’re marked with the sign of the Cross on our foreheads, our parents and godparents trace it after the priest or deacon, and our baptismal consecration is meant to be extended and intensified throughout all aspects of our life. The more intense form of consecration that is the consecrated life is meant to be even more a living out of this reality.
  • The consecrated life is cruciform first as disciples. We cannot be Jesus’ follower unless we pick up our Cross each day and follow him. That’s what happens in the consecrated life. Just like the Cross itself, the consecrated life is often misunderstood. The Cross is not so much a sign of pain but of the love that made that much pain bearable, a love that lays down its life to save brothers and sisters. The consecrated life is not fundamentally about giving things up — giving up money and possessions through the vow of poverty, marriage, sex and family through the vow of chastity, one’s own autonomy and will through the vow of obedience — but about love, about the love that finds in adoring God and serving others true wealth, true love and true freedom. We find in the crucified Christ on the Cross our power and wisdom. We glory in nothing but the Cross of the Lord Jesus by which the world is crucified to us and us to the world.
  • And then the consecrated life overflows into our apostolate as we freely not only lay down our lives in union with Christ to help others but seek to help them to model their life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross. There is clearly a Cross involved in the apostolate. It’s hard work. There are a lot of setbacks. There’s often misunderstanding. There’s frequently rejection, even from those we’re trying to help. Like Jesus on Calvary, often our efforts are mocked by cynics. But we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. When we look at Jesus on the Cross we see the happiest, most loving person in the history of the world at the supreme moment of his triumph, drawing the greatest good out of the greatest evil, and we enter into that mystery through our apostolate. We also seek to help people to understand it. You, Sisters, seek to help woman pregnant in far less than optimal circumstances unite their situation to the crucified love of the Lord. So many sisters do it at bedsides, as they help those who are suffering, enter more deeply into the mystery of the Cross. Others serve the poor, others children, and help to educate them in the school of the Cross. As St. Rose of Lima said, there is no ladder to heaven except the ladder of the Cross.
  • The early Christians used to say that the Cross was their only hope. “Ave, O Crux, Spes Unica.” It’s our only hope because without Christ’s love on the Cross we would be goners; but also because without our following Christ on this path, without our picking up our Cross and dying to ourselves on it, we would be goners, too. But it’s through this mystery, the mystery we celebrate today, that we enter more fully into redemption, into life, humbling ourselves with Christ and becoming obedient even to death on the Cross each day.
  • The great way we enter into that school, the great way we’re strengthened in this cruciform pattern of Christian consecrated, is hear at Mass, in which Christ gives us his crucified and risen body and blood offered for us on the Cross. It’s here we ingest our “power and wisdom.” It’s here we crucify ourselves to the world and the world to us. It’s here we find our only hope and are strengthened to bring this hope to everyone.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
nm 21:4b-9

With their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!”
In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
“We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.”
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.”
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Responsorial Psalm
ps 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Hearken, my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable,
I will utter mysteries from of old.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
While he slew them they sought him
and inquired after God again,
Remembering that God was their rock
and the Most High God, their redeemer.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But they flattered him with their mouths
and lied to him with their tongues,
Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him,
nor were they faithful to his covenant.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But he, being merciful, forgave their sin
and destroyed them not;
Often he turned back his anger
and let none of his wrath be roused.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Reading 2
phil 2:6-11

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

jn 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.