Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Number 21:4b-9; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17)

Although the swastika has been used for eons with varied significances, most people see it today as a symbol of Nazism. As such, it conveys the idea of a misconceived super-race with the supposed right to conquer and suppress any nation or people. Analysts have found this meaning stemming from the design of a cross that is turned in upon itself.

Since Jesus death and resurrection, the cross has been associated with human transcendence through belief in Jesus’ divinity. The horizontal bar symbolizes human destiny without Christ doomed to destruction. But Christ, symbolized by the vertical bar, gives humanity eternal possibilities if humans but attach themselves to him through faith. However, the right angles of the swastika represent humanity’s turn to itself again intercepting the hope of transcendence.

All this may sound like heady speculation, but it also may give us a better appreciation for the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross that we celebrate today. In Roman times the cross was a sign of death, much like a hangman’s noose today, because it was used to execute criminals. Jesus, however, transformed it into a symbol of life by embracing death in perfect love according to the Father’s will. Following him as our Lord and Savior, we can view the cross as an assurance of our new destiny.