Homily for the Feast of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Theme: LOOK AND LIVE!
By: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
Homily for Tuesday September 14 2021
*Num 21 : 4 – 9, Phil 2 : 6 – 11, Jn 3 : 13 – 17.
These days, the people of God are still losing patience with God on their way to the promised land. They still backslide into idolatry, going back to what their fathers did in the past (Odo, Omabe and Akatakpa masquerade cults). They get back to paying homage to the wicked deities that enslaved their ancestors. Then the Lord abandons them to the torture of fiery serpents and demons; Many are dying premature deaths being poisoned by their enemies and attacked by witchcraft spirits. As usual, they repent and run to Adoration centres and get men of God to intercede for them. They are made to look at Jesus in the Eucharist. Some are given sacramentals to wear, some are given olive oils to rub on their skins and holy waters to sprinkle or even drink. So, where did we get it wrong or right?
The main import of the exaltation of the Cross is the emphasis on faith in the sacraments and sacramentals. It requires a theological understanding of the spiritual authority embedded in the exalted name of Jesus, body of Jesus, blood of Jesus, his Word and his Spirit – these are 5 sources of spiritual authority. Christ said in today’s gospel that ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’. God’s love cannot allow mankind to be suppressed by our enemy, the devil. That is why his Son Jesus suffered on the Cross that we may have deliverance.
The power of sacramentals is the direct countering of the negative tendency of idolatry in man – the inordinate placing of man’s faith in created things against the Creator with the correct religious tendency. God did not miss the opportunity of the mistake in the desert to affirm this correction. The book of Wisdom so aptly captures the theology of the use of sacramentals in this passage: ‘Affliction struck them by way of warning and they had a saving token (sacramental) to remind them of the commandments of your law for whoever turned to it (the holy image) was saved, not by what he looked at, but by you, the Saviour of all’, Wis 16 : 6 – 7. The sacramental – faith – formula is simple: LOOK AND LIVE! It works both for the sacraments (sign reality) and the sacramentals (ordinary signs) and we should not confuse the two. Let us learn to place our faith in Christ’s efficacious death on the Cross through the sacramental aid of the Crucifix. May God bless you today!