Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross of Jesus. There is no better symbol of love, sacrifice, selflessness, mercy, forgiveness, grace. It’s perfect. And, as Bishop Barron likes to say, Christ on the cross is a picture of a “happy” man. For happiness in the way Jesus meant it in the Beatitudes is about detachment.
When we are detached we don’t put anything before our desire to please God, to do His will. We can leave everything behind, shed all of our pride and our need to be right or to be understood; we cast aside our feelings of being slighted or abandoned because we know that our Creator who needs nothing, willed us into being and that kind of love is enough. It’s more than enough.
Where before there was nothing, now there is you. And out of the deepest love, so deep we cannot fathom it, God the Father sent Jesus to suffer and die for our salvation. Yes, we should indeed “Sing to Jesus.” Sing in praise and in thanksgiving. Sing to worship and adore. Just like the Heavenly Host at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. The angels sing when Jesus is born and they sing eternally in Heaven. We can join the choir of angels here and again when we meet Jesus face to face.
Today’s Gospel from John describes the women standing by the cross of Jesus as He was hanging there, dying. Mary, His mother is there. And now the prophecy of Simeon, all those years before when she and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple according to the Law, is fulfilled. A sword did pierce her heart. Just as a real spear pierced the heart of Jesus. Though Mary’s sword was figurative, it was no less painful or real for her. Our own hearts should break at the sight of Jesus as His life drains away so that we might have life, eternally. And then we will sing again, on the third day, in joy and gratitude for His Resurrection that puts an end to death and signifies for us that we, too, will rise one day!
The cross is a paradox: for Jesus is glorified as He is humiliated and murdered. That cross to which Jesus is nailed is lifted high to give us hope. Yes, that is a paradox. But it is also meaningful to those who believe. Jesus on the cross shows us, in stark relief against that ominous sky, that our lives matter, and how precious we are to God.
So, let’s sing to Jesus, shall we?