Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

John 3:13-17

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Ellen Keane

Published: September 14, 2016

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Julie was fond of reminding the Sisters that without the cross there was no Sister of Notre Dame. And yet, for the longest time in my young religious life, I thought of our Congregation marked by “the Cross” as heavy, burdensome, and not really appealing. My early catechism training was deeply ingrained in the world of sin and sinfulness and did little to help me to understand the cross that Julie speaks of. It is only as I have “grown up” in Notre Dame that I have come to understand the depth of Julie’s words and the truth that Jesus did not come to suffer and die for our sins as though a God of love would be so cruel as to send him with that as a motive. I have come to understand and experience in some small measure that Jesus’ birth, life and death reveal in the flesh the boundless love and longing of our good God for us.

Jesus left himself wide open to vulnerability, out of a spirit of love. He challenged people’s tendency to exclude, to judge, to react out of fear and hate and invited people to experience love. His challenge was motivated by love… always love. He invites us to do the same.

Jesus’ total surrender on the cross led him to death… His lifeless body entombed in death, waited for love to breathe life into him…and the Spirit of God’s love did …such life-giving love, when pondered, should leave us all breathless!

If we truly love and love with a spirit of fidelity, then crosses and suffering are bound to be part of our journey, but the way in which we engage those crosses makes all the difference. How far will our love go in the face of suffering? How have crosses borne in love shaped our life? How has the Spirit breathed life into us in those death-dealing moments on our journey?

How has the Spirit opened our eyes, ears and hearts to ever new understandings of our call to participate with men, women and children in shaping a new earth of life giving relationships rooted in compassion, love, mercy and peace?

For us, as we and you also, respond to the Spirit’s invitation to participate in shaping a new earth of life giving relationships, all of us are, in fact, giving flesh in our time and place to the Exultation of the Cross!

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