Even in the midst of our pain, there is God.

It is hard to find anything triumphant in these days of a global pandemic, and yet, even in the death of Jesus on the cross, there indeed is something to celebrate.

Why does the Church even have a Feast Day (14 September 2020) to celebrate the “Triumph of the Cross”? Does the feast celebrate an event which Fr. Robin Ryan, the author of God and the Mystery of Human Suffering would describe as “a cruel form of execution”? The death of Jesus was painful and there was nothing triumphant in that.  It is Jesus giving of himself, in love, for the world, and that’s the redemptive part. The triumph of God’s love and self-sacrifice over evil and sin. The cross became transformed by the saving love of God.

In the world today, we wouldn’t use words like “triumphant” or “exaltation”, so we might use words like : winning, victorious, or a connection to being “proud” or feeling “pride”, or if you are into hashtags it would be #successtown.

In a recent reflection by Ron Rolheiser OMI, he describes the cross as an infallible indication of Christian Discipleship, and that joy is an infallible indication of God’s presence.

The cross is a powerful sign that can be used for suffering and life. MacKillop Catholic College, Werribee, Victoria has an imposing cross at the beginning of the driveway into their school. It stands a whopping 6.5 metres tall. The College describes its presence as acting as a beacon to the community that clearly articulates their heritage and beliefs and you can read more about this here on this PDF.

The triumph of the cross to me is also about lifting up the lowly. God lifts up the weak and lowly. Where have I seen the triumph of the cross in my life over recent times?

  • In families struggling in small apartments in lockdown yet again due to COVID-19 and the immediate acts of kindness towards them.
  • In the parents whose autistic son has been suspended at school for the fourth time, who again attend another school meeting to see a resolve.
  • In the man seeking asylum in this country, who has been held in detention for over seven years who has friends supporting him from their own place of lockdown.
  • In my nonna who when she died at the age of 106, who knew how importance of faith and family in her life.
  • In my priest who nourishes us weekly with word and sacrament
  • In the police, army, navy, air force personnel who during this Melbourne lockdown patrol our streets.
  • In the supermarket workers, who continue to be an uplifting presence.
  • In the frontline workers in hospitals.
  • In all those people who are doing it tough, whom I don’t even see.

The biggest learning for me, is that none of the people above ever give up. They have courage, hope and joy.

The words of the entrance antiphon for the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross are inviting and a prayer that we can use each and every day.

We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection: through him we are saved and made free.

Rita Malavisi rsj