Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Today’s feast is truly meant to be a day for rejoicing in the salvation and healing that was won for us all by the Cross of Jesus, our redeemer. It is a day to remember those well spoken words: “We adore you O Christ and we bless you because by your Holy Cross you have saved the world.”
We adore Christ, we thank Christ, we rejoice with Christ in our salvation. Today is a great day for rejoicing.
But it strikes me that there is another side to the feast we celebrate today as well. This side of the feast is evoked for me by the words we hear in our first reading from the Book of Numbers where we read:
“With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!”
The people were so worn out by the long, long journey that they could seemingly no longer remember how blessed they were to have been freed from horrible slavery and servitude. Their hearts were filled with a kind of amnesia, a forgetfulness if you will, because their present experience was so painful and difficult. So they complained again God, they complained against Moses. And I think I can understand why they felt the need to do so.
Don’t we all at times, when the dark clouds cover our heads, forget those other times when the sun was so bright we had to shield our eyes? I know I do! There are frustrating moments in my life from day to day when I am guilty of this unique brand of “amnesia”, this forgetfulness of the abundant and lavish kindness of God. I forget the countless times I have been blessed by God who never holds back.
So dear friends, on this feast of rejoicing and gratitude let’s not be too hard on those poor worn out, impatient, desert-weary people who hated the food, the heat, and the discouraging journey. They cried out loudly! And I have no doubt that God smiled in an understanding way (as He so often does with me) and continued to show them the way.
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.