God so loved the world . . . 

 

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Feast)

 

Hearts, red roses, scented handkerchiefs, diamonds, locks of hair. When someone gives such things to another person, you know that love is in the air.

But none of these symbols can come close to the truest expression of love the world has ever known: the cross of Jesus Christ. God himself became man and died an agonizing death on that cross so that we could be redeemed and live with him, now and into eternity.

But remember, God didn’t just die for humanity in general. He died for you. Jesus would have submitted to the pain of the cross even if you were the only person on earth.

So how do we respond to so great a love? Your initial reaction to that question might be to think of the things you must do in return. We all want to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. But it’s not only about what we do for God. It’s also about receiving what Jesus died to give us. Through his death on the cross, we now have access to God’s grace and mercy. It is freely poured out on us; there’s nothing we have to do to earn it. He won it at great cost to himself, “becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). That’s how much he loves us! That’s how much he loves you!

Opening your heart to Jesus and letting his love flow into you will then help you love other people as he loves you. Without condemnation. Without judgment. With a willingness to sacrifice for the people in your life. With a willingness to be available, to listen, to be patient, to forbear, and, above all, to forgive.

The cross is the ultimate symbol of God’s love for each one of us. But it’s more than a symbol—it’s a reality that you can live each day. On this great feast, spend some time at the foot of that cross, and let Jesus fill you up. Then be a living reminder of God’s love and mercy to all you meet.

“Jesus, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”

Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38
Philippians 2:6-11

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