Saturday, September 13, 2014
Feast, EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
September 14, 2014
[Feast, EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS]
Nm 21: 4b-9 / Ps 78: 1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38 / Phil 2: 6-11 / Jn 3: 13-17
First Reading: Numbers 21: 4b-9
The people were discouraged by the journey and began to complain against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is neither bread nor water here and we are disgusted with this tasteless manna." Yahweh then sent fiery serpents against them. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, speaking against Yahweh and against you. Plead with Yahweh to take the serpents away." Moses pleaded for the people and Yahweh said to him, "Make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard; whoever has been bitten and then looks at it shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a standard. Whenever a man was bitten, he looked towards the bronze serpent and he lived.
Second Reading: Philippians 2: 6-11
Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in his appearance found as a man. He humbled himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted him and gave him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Gospel: John 3: 13-17
No one has ever gone up to heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through him the world is to be saved.
The triumph of the Cross, the Cross of Jesus Christ, is one of the most important and fundamental beliefs of Christianity. To those who do not share our faith in Jesus, it probably sounds like the ultimate contradiction in terms. That is understandable, because in the ancient world, crucifixion was a sign of defeat, not a sign of victory. Only those who have faith can see the victory that came in and through Jesus' sufferings. That victory is spoken of in today's second reading from Philippians, where we are told that Jesus "humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a Cross. But because of this, God highly exalted him in the Resurrection, and bestowed upon him the name above all other names."
Jesus said in today's Gospel reading that he would be "lifted up" in crucifixion, so that he would become the source of eternal life for all who believe in him. And that is precisely what happened on Good Friday: Jesus took our sins upon himself on the Cross, including, incidentally, the sins we have not even committed yet, and made atonement for them to the heavenly Father. Jesus' cross was his trophy because it was the means by which the devil was wounded and death conquered. Without the victory of the Cross, there would be no Resurrection, no forgiveness, and no hope of heaven. It is as simple as that. The triumph of the Cross is "a given". It is an unchangeable fact of our Catholic Christian faith. Jesus won the victory over sin and death by his sacrifice on Good Friday, and nothing can ever negate that victory. The good news is that because of Jesus' victory on his Cross, we now have the potential to experience many "victories" ourselves in the midst of our personal crosses.
What are these potential victories—these potential "triumphs" that we can experience through our daily crosses? Well, think, for a moment, of the major sufferings you have experienced in your life. Have you changed in a positive way through the crosses you have experienced? There are people who have become less materialistic, more generous with their money, time and possessions after they have been afflicted with a serious disease. That positive change is a victory of God in them. There are people who have become much more humble after they have lost their job, or had a struggle with drugs or alcohol. That positive change is a triumph of their personal cross. Then again, to the extent that you consciously offer up your personal daily crosses to God in union with the Cross of Jesus Christ—you experience victory, since you do something good with an evil you are experiencing in your life.
Have your sufferings brought you closer to God? This is yet another way that you can triumph through your cross. There are people who have returned to the practice of their faith after something bad happened to them. And finally, by looking to Jesus and reflecting on his Cross, have you found strength to deal with your own sufferings? If you have, then you have experienced victory and triumph by allowing the Lord to build you up in faith and hope. Your cross may not have gone away, but you were better able to deal with it.
We cannot always choose the sufferings we experience in life but we can choose to have victories in the midst of them. We can choose, to learn from our crosses and change in a positive way in response to our crosses. We can choose to let our crosses bring us closer to God. We can choose to share our faith with others when we have a cross, and we can choose to look to Jesus for the strength we need to deal with our cross.
We pray …
… for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn
… for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary
… for families who are in need of healing
… for world peace and reconciliation
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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