On September 14, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Glorious Cross. The cross, an awful tool to impose death from the Roman period, becomes the key to eternal life in the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The feast is celebrated exactly 40 days after the Feast of the Transfiguration (on August 6).

 

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Christian tradition likens the wood of the Cross to the wood of the Tree of Knowledge or the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Through eating from the Tree of the Garden of Eden, death entered the world because of transgression (Adam ate from the forbidden tree), and through the wood of the Cross life was victorious over death (Jesus was obedient unto death on a cross). The first Adam hid in the wood (the trees) of the Garden when he heard God walking in the Garden, as it is written: "the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:8). He hid because sin had resulted in the penetration into his soul of the fear in the face of God – sin, fear, death then came to rule over the human person. However, Jesus did not hide – he was taken by the force of human sinfulness – and they hung him on the wood of the Cross and lifted him up so that all might see him, as it is written: "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness" (1Peter 2:24). 

The Cross is also likened to the Ark of Noah, which was built from wood (and all those who took refuge in it were saved from the waters of the flood), as it is written "For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:37). It is likened to the staff of Moses (by which Moses did his signs and wonders and with it Moses led the people).

It is also possible to see in the Cross, a sukkah (tent, tabernacle or booth). Instead of the tents (sukkot) that Peter sought to erect for Jesus and the prophets, Moses and Elijah, on the high mountain when Jesus was transfigured (the Feast of the Transfiguration being exactly forty days before the Feast of the Glorious Cross), Jesus' Cross constitutes the real sukkah of the one who believes in Jesus, who seeks its shade in his flight from sin. In the shade of the Cross, the believer in Jesus gazes upon the Son of Man who obeys the will of his heavenly Father fully.

The origin of the Feast is in the day of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem (the Church of the Resurrection). On September 14, 335, according to Christian tradition, the Empress Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine who recognized Christianity as a legitimate religion in the Byzantine Empire after centuries of persecution, found the Cross of Jesus at the place where she built Church. Her workers who were digging there found three crosses and she was able to identify which of the three was the cross of Jesus because of its miraculous powers. According to one story, a funeral procession passed by when they were digging and the Empress ordered her men to lay the corpse of the dead person on the Cross and he was raised up to new life. The Church that was built on the spot of the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection is a sukkah in the heart of Jerusalem for all who seek refuge in the shade of the Cross and who turn their faces to the glory of the Messiah who is risen from the dead.