This is the Feast to celebrate the New Life we receive through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We celebrate it in September, a time that is far removed from the devastation and tragedy of Good Friday. We do this for a good reason. Death is not the victory, but only the passage.
The Cross is our symbol of this journey and Jesus is our brother who leads us on the way. We have other symbols that recall death, tragedy, darkness, and temptations to despair. These symbols evoke the memory of loved ones who died in tragedy. Such symbols are in Oklahoma City and at the Pentagon in northern Virginia.
The symbols chosen to memorialize these loved ones are chairs and benches. What do these symbols say? I see two reminders here. A chair and bench states that a person existed who had a significant place in the lives of others. These are loved ones, co-workers, neighbors and their place should be acknowledged. A chair and a bench also invite one to sit down and stay a while. They invite us to reflect on the lives of these loved ones as well as on our own lives.
The Cross shares this same memorial and invitation. Jesus on the Cross had his place in the lives of his loved ones. And the Cross, when we reflect on it, invites us to consider His life and our own. When we do this we share something with these contemporary symbols : these chairs and benches. We share the knowledge that life is a gift, a temporary presence, a precious presence for one another.
The Cross also moves beyond these messages and is for us the symbol that overcomes death. The hope we share in the Cross is that tragedy and darkness, death and evil can be overcome. This is the reason that we have a Feast of the Cross.
The Gospel today contains that favorite verse that you see on your TV sets during sporting events. Some people like to hold up a sign in the background and all it says is "John 3:16." Well, today's Gospel contains that verse. "God so loved the world that He gave his only Son."
The verse goes on to say that we have life through this Son. We have life through his journey, a journey that meant the Cross.
Today is a feast of Hope, a memorial of Jesus who was with us and a symbol that invites us to reflect. Above all today is a celebration that this symbol is more than a piece of jewelry, baubles dangling from one's ears.
Today we share the conviction and the assurance that New Life is both our journey and our destination.