At certain times of year, we remember those who died so that we may be free.
In November, we remember the many who died on the fields of Flanders, and the nearer shores of Normandy, and the few who flew in the Battle of Britain – each giving their life to keep our nation free from an oppressive enemy.
Today, we remember the One who died so that we may inherit eternal life.
Jesus dares to challenge us to forgive others, so that all may live in a realm where all is forgiven. He was not ashamed to forgive those who condemned him to death.
Jesus dares to ask us to check our anger, so that we do no harm even to those who deserve it. If we should feel that someone deserves to die for their actions, Jesus has already accepted their death penalty.
Jesus dares to lay down his life because, in God’s plan, a sacrifice is needed so that we, imperfect, human beings could be restored to friendship with God. This is the meaning of the animal sacrifices which were part of the Jewish Law, but which have been fulfilled more perfectly by the Lamb of God.
It is most pleasing to God that you have come to worship today. God invites you not only to honour the death of the Lamb of God as your Saviour, but to come to know Jesus as a living friend – a relationship which grows first through your personal prayer, but would be enriched by the spiritual gifts of the Word of God and the Bread of Life which we offer in this church, and in every church, each Sunday. If there is a hunger in your heart to know God better, to test whether God’s love is real, perhaps this year is the year to take a step of faith, to risk a conversation with a Christian friend, or see if Sunday service has something to offer you.
At every Mass, Sunday by Sunday, weekday by weekday, we remember the sacrifice made by Jesus. We are not bidden to understand how this sacrifice works. We are asked to trust in the message of Jesus, that what He did was indeed required so that we might not spend eternity in the realm apart from God, but enter eternal happiness as God’s adopted children.
If we look deep enough into our souls, we see behind the mask each one of us wears, to the frightened child who asks: am I valued? Am I loved? Am I worth anything?
God’s answer is Jesus. Jesus who blessed the little children. Jesus who offered forgiveness to those disabled, rejected by society, or who considered themselves beyond redemption. Jesus who stretched out his arms on the Cross because He loves us, and included our sin in the price he was willing to pay.
In November, we lay a wreath of poppies, to proclaim our gratitude for those who defended our nation.
Today, we pay homage to a cross of wood, on which our Saviour was executed as the punishment for all the wrongdoing the human race would ever commit.
Venerate this cross with joy, for this is your liberation, this is your healing, this is your victory over your own brokenness – this is your share in a great act of thanksgiving to the God who is Love.