Friday, September 14, 2012

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Metuchen is a odd diocese (for a number of reasons, but that's another article) in that we've had two priests who have undergone heart transplants.  The story of one of them, Fr. Edmund Luciano, has been written about in Catholic newspapers.

A virus caused his heart muscle to enlarge and weaken, to the point that his life was in danger.  His name was placed on the donor recipient list, and moved higher and higher as his heart grew weaker and weaker.  Finally, a heart became available due to a fatality and the family's agreeing to donate the deceased's organs.  The transplant was performed, and today Fr. Luciano is alive and well today.

Imagine it: One family devastated by a tragic death; another family elated by the chance for life.  Both families in tears for very different reasons.  The heart that stopped beating becomes the heart that once again sustains life.  The death of one causes the life of another.  That's the Cross.

Crucifixion was meant to be a humiliating, extended, public death.  Even if they committed a crime warranting death, Roman citizens had the right to be exempt from it.  Yet this is how Jesus Christ died for us.  No lethal injection.  No falling asleep and not waking up.  Nothing quick and pain-free.  A humiliating, extended, public death, for you and for me.

In spite of this, though, Catholics do not shun the Cross as a reminder of Jesus' death sentence.  Rather, we embrace the Cross, display the Cross, even trace the Cross on our bodies as an outward gesture that accompanies our prayer.  Practically, it takes lots of shapes and sizes in our lives: inconvenience, delay, a change in plans, grief, sickness, death, financial worries, etc.

Today is a great Feast day.

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