In addition to reminding us that Christianity is historical religion (not a religion of “once upon a time” but one based on actual events that involved actual people), the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross serves a greater purpose. Part of the greater purpose for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is to remind us of...(wait for it)...the Cross. Before you say "thanks Captain Obvious," let me explain.
The Exaltation of the Cross isn't some off-season version of Good Friday ("Tired of waiting for Lent and then fasting for 40 days before venerating the Saving Passion of Our Lord? Fast no longer! This Sunday only, live at the Church of St. Gudrun the Inquisitive, it's the Exaltation of the Cross! Be there!"), but a moment to focus on the Cross and what it says about the love of God. But the Cross to focus on isn't that nice piece of jewelry you gave your niece for her First Communion.
The Romans (who were, terrifyingly, very creative in such things) believed in publicly executing criminals and enemies of the state as a warning, with crucifixion being the most gruesome way to kill someone that they could come up with. And that's the Cross the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross focuses on.
That's horrible, why bring this up? Because what it tells us about the love of God is central to Sunday's Gospel. More on this tomorrow.