Philippians 2.6-11; Psalm 77; John 3.13-17
The multiple feasts of the Holy Cross in former liturgical calendars have been consolidated into one. The date commemorates the rescue of the relic of the True Cross by Emperor Heraclius in 629 after it had been captured by the Persians fifteen years previously. It also marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335; the date for that dedication was chosen because it was the traditional date of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple (in the Hebrew month of Ethanim). [I Kings 8.2] The feast also commemorates the finding of the True Cross by St Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great, in about 326.
The liturgy of Good Friday includes the solemn Adoration of the Holy Cross. “Because of the wood of a tree, joy has come to the whole world.”
The Cross, for the Roman Empire the ghastliest punishment that could be devised, a punishment meted out only on slaves and other non-citizens, was God’s way of conquering death. Our Lord entered the faithless city of Jerusalem [Luke 19.41-44] to conquer Satan, sin and death not by means of an army either earthly or terrestrial [Matthew 26.53-54] but by suffering. As we bear our own crosses [Matthew 16.24-26], as we offer our own sufferings to be joined to his, we become his partners in bringing to the world a joy beyond the transitory pleasures that this world can afford.