Not my will, but Yours: Meditation on the Exaltation of the Cross

Before thy cross, we bow down in worship, O Master, And thy holy resurrection we glorify! (On September 14th we celebrate the Elevation of the Cross)

For Christians, the Cross is a symbol of triumph and victory. Hence, the Church calls this feast “the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross.” The Mystery of the Crucifixion reveals Christ’s free and total surrender, out of love, for His Father’s will. In his humanity, Christ asks the Father to end his suffering. Ultimately, however, Jesus trusts in His Father’s will and prays, “not my will, but yours” (Luke 22:42).

The follower of Christ is called to transfiguration and resurrection through the crucifixion of his or her egoistic desires. Christianity is a life of paradox. The Lord teaches us, “if you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it” (Luke 17:33) and “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last” (Matthew 20:16). In our relationships with others, we are called to have the same mindset as Christ, who came to serve and not to be served (Matthew 20:28). Christ made himself nothing; he became a servant and humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8).

When we surrender our will for the sake of others’,- by biting our tongue, by going along with someone else’s idea, by not defending ourselves, by not only forgiving but also embracing and serving those who have injured us- we share in the triumph of the cross. When we willingly die to ourselves, our hearts too are elevated. This heavenly feeling is only possible by emptying our hearts of self so that they might become as light as angelic wings. Surrender to God transforms us into lighthearted people.

Today, let us celebrate this feast by meditating on the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus teaches us to address His Father as Our Father. Christ wants us to trust in Our Father, who loves mankind and who desires to establish the throne of His merciful and compassionate Kingdom in our hearts. As we prostrate before the Cross today, let us relinquish our wills to Our Father’s will and pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done!” As we fall down into our tomb, let us let go of all the empty promises our ego wants to desperately to hold on to (recognition, wealth, power, temporary pleasure, etc., even mortal life itself). Let us then descend into the Hades that we’ve created with our negative thoughts, hurtful words, and selfish choices and invite Christ to open up the gates of isolation that have kept our hearts on lock down. As we are prostrated before our Lord, with our hearts lifted above our heads, may we invite Our Father to establish His throne in our hearts. Let us then, with full confidence and without condemnation, call out to Our Father and arise into new life- into Christ’s way of thinking, speaking, and acting- with the power of the precious and life-giving Cross.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

(1 Peter 4:7-11)

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