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Homily for the Celebration of the Lord's Passion

All of us in this Cathedral, no doubt, are carrying some sort of cross in our lives. It may be our own physical or emotional suffering. It may be the concern we have for loved ones who are bearing a heavy burden at this time. It may be a personal or family setback or difficult situation.

What do we do in the midst of the cross? The world in which we live tells us to avoid it at all cost; to run from it; to use substances or other behaviors that offer a temporary, so-called escape. 

That approach to the cross is radically different for followers of Christ. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem stated that the Church is proud of all the actions of Jesus, but her greatest boast is the Cross. That is because on the Cross, Jesus demonstrated perfect obedience to the will of the Father. On the cross, He took on the darkness and evil of the world and proved victorious destroying the power of sin, suffering and even death itself. That is why the Letter to Hebrews tells us today to “confidently approach this throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help” (4:16).

And so in just a few moments, the Church invites us to venerate the Cross on which hung the Savior of the world. As we do, we remember the words of Saint John Paul II: “There is no cross that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us.” 

Thus, as you come forward for the veneration of the Cross, tell the Lord in the silence of your heart the help that you are seeking at this time in your life, and also mention the names of those you know and love who are suffering at this very moment. Your veneration of the cross is an act of faith! It reflects your belief that, in the midst of our sufferings, we are united intimately to the Lord, the One who is with us always, most especially in our hour of need; the One alone who provides us with the grace, strength, and perseverance we need; and the One who offers us a share in His victory both now and forever. 

Dear friends in Christ, our greatest boast is the Cross. The Cross is the throne of grace; it is the source of mercy. So take courage and be stouthearted all you who hope in the Lord (cf. Ps. 27:14), because by His holy cross, He has redeemed the world. Amen.