Fr. Bob's homily was a meaningful description of how God never leaves us. Below is my best rendition of his homily:
Jesus says to us, "... behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). Sometimes when we are suffering and are on the cross, we feel abandoned by God. We look everywhere, but we can't see Him. We think that perhaps He isn't there. But God never leaves us. When we are nailed to the cross, it is then that we are nailed on top of Him. He is holding us even as we suffer with Him. The reason that we cannot see him in our darkest hours of suffering is that He's closer to us then than He has ever been. He can take horrible events and incredible pains and heal them. He makes all things new...even the cross. He can bring good from evil, healing from harm and brings hope and healing to all who call upon Him.
This is why we celebrate today the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. It's such a powerful message to me. As Catholics, we talk a lot about "offering it up" but only as we continue on this way of the cross am I really starting to understand more and more what this means. It means that even though we would have never chosen this path (infertility) for ourselves, just like Christ didn't choose his path ("My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will" Matthew 26:39.), it is the path we have been given and it can result in good. And if we unite our sufferings with those of Christ, He will bring life and goodness from a place where only death and evil were thought to exist. I see this manifested even now with the development of Hannah's Tears and the events unfolding with Bishop D'Arcy and the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. For so long, Dave and I kept our journey and suffering to ourselves, but once we really trusted God and obeyed to His call to open up and begin sharing our experiences, amazing things have begun to happen which have not only allowed us to heal but have allowed us to help others as well. Just yesterday I was asked if I would be willing to either be interviewed or write an article for Today's Catholic, our diocesan newspaper. It's amazing what can happen when we offer our hurts and sufferings to God and allow Him to do with them what He wills. We gain strength, peace and joy as He transforms us and allows us to be conduits of grace to others. I have seen it time and time again with so many people who have suffered yet still choose to give of themselves...It is true that wherever your greatest pain, there also lies your greatest ministry.
No matter what your pain, your suffering, your wound, please know that I am praying for you, that there is hope and that Jesus can and does make all things new. You can trust Him.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.
Exaltation of the Cross
(from the book Byzantine Daily Worship)
By its elevation, the cross is like an appeal to the whole creation to adore the blessed passion of Christ our God who has suspended on it, for Christ destroyed by this cross the one who had destroyed us. In his great goodness, he brought us back to life after we had been dead, and he beatified us and made us worthy of heaven, for he is merciful. Wherefore we exalt his name with great rejoicing and glorify his infinite condescension...
O precious cross of the Lord, Moses prefigured you when he stretched out his arms to heaven and thus defeated the haughty Amalek. You are the pride of the faithful, the strength of those who struggle. You are the beauty of the apostles, the courage of the just, and the salvation of all the saints. Wherefore, at the sight of your elevation, the whole creation rejoices and exults and glorifies Christ whose goodness tied all things together into one...
O most venerable cross of the Lord, the angels surround you with joy. By your elevation today, you raise those who had been cast down and delivered to death for having eaten of the forbidden tree. Wherefore we honor you in the faith of our hearts and praise you with our lips, begging for sanctification...
Come, all you nations, let us bow in worship to the blessed cross of the Lord through which eternal justice came to us. He who deceived Adam, the first man, was conquered by a tree, and the same who fettered the royal creation by his guile has been cast down into nothingness. The serpent's venom has been washed away by the divine blood of Christ, and the curse of the sin has been lifted by a rightful sentence when the just Christ was condemned unjustly. By God's plan, death that had come from a tree would be conquered by a tree, and suffering would be healed by the suffering of the Lord. Glory be to the active presence of your providence in our lives, O Christ our King: through it, you have wrought salvation for all.