Saturday, 14 September 2013
In Cruce Salus –In the Cross is Salvation
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. While St Paul tells us that “unless Christ is raised...we are the most unfortunate of people” (1 Cor.15v17-19), this does not negate that “we preach a crucified Christ” (1.Cor.1v23). We seem to have forgotten this and yet it is essential; it is core to our Faith, for while the Resurrection shows the glory and power of God, it is the Cross that demonstrates His Love and His Mercy, upon which we depend for our salvation.
We have, since the 1960’s, tended to focus on the Mass in its aspect of banquet, and thus come to treat it as some sort of ‘party time’, generating feel-good liturgies that build emotional crescendos but by-pass the feeding of the soul with spiritual truths and grace. Since any party provided by the world is likely to be much more exciting than the Mass, can we be surprised that since the focus on the Mass as meal became the ‘in thing’ that the number of those attending Mass has precipitously diminished? I think not.
It is time then, to remember that it was not the Last Supper Our Lord commanded us to commemorate, nor even the Resurrection; it was the Crucifixion: “This is My Body given up (handed over; sacrificed) for you ...My Blood which is shed (spilled, poured out) for you and for many” (Matthew 26:28).
Although the banquet and the resurrection are intrinsically part of the Mass -the Supper pre-figuring the Cross and giving us the words of Institution and the Priesthood, the Risen Lord becoming Present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament- it was His Sacrificed Body and Spilled Blood He commanded us to commemorate. Perhaps in order to ensure we are never without the supreme witness to His love and mercy; a love and mercy upon which we depend and in which we place our trust.
In the Cross is Salvation has two important meanings for me. First of all, it reminds me that I am not saved my by prayers, penances and sacrifices: these only invite the cross into my life and allow me to participate in the suffering of the Lord in order that having died with Christ I might rise with Christ.
Second of all, it reminds me that the Mass must be my first priority in life since it makes present on the altar the Risen Lord Who has taken His own Blood with Him into heaven (Heb.9v24) to plead for us as “a Lamb standing as though slain” (Rev.5v6). This eternal offering of the Lamb is a pleading of the Cross; a pleading to which we unite ourselves on earth at Mass: “When you eat this bread and drink this cup you are proclaiming the death of the Lord”, 1.Cor.11v26). Since it is true that in the Cross is my salvation; then it is also true that in the Mass is my salvation.