Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
One of my favorite poems, “The Stolen Child,” by W.B. Yeats, has a refrain that reads “Come away, O human child!/To the waters and the wild/With a faery, hand in hand/For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” When we encounter pain and suffering, our natural instinct is to flee from it, and encourage others to do the same. But, this side of paradise, there is no true escape from the weeping that exists in this world. But the genius of the Cross is that God’s solution is that He will come to join us in these sufferings.
The Psalm response today encourages us to “not forget the works of the Lord.” Paul tells us that the greatest work of the Lord is that “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a Cross.” Taking “the likeness of a slave,” the Lord joins us in our sufferings, and the weeping of the world. All three readings, first, second, and gospel, show us the ultimate result of this: our sickness from sin is ended, eternal life is given to us, and Jesus is “greatly exalted,” having “the name that is above every other name.” Jesus joins us as we weep in the world, but that weeping is not forever.
We need few reminders that the world has more weeping than we can understand. As in the times of Yeats, Paul, and Moses, there is suffering and even martyrdom that occurs throughout the world today. A magic wand cannot simply be waved to end it all, and we cannot follow the fairies to a better place. But in the Cross, we have a concrete reminder that God has compassion, and Jesus suffers with us. In our weeping, we are never alone. Jesus joins us to accompany us during the sufferings, and eventually end them. Thus we celebrate today the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.