September 14, 2014

Triumph of the Cross

September 14, 2014:  Exaltation of the Holy Cross

  • 'Rock' tie pin:  They remembered God was their rock (psalm)
  • Crucifix:  "Jesus became obedient to death, death on a cross." (2nd reading)
  • Red shirt:  color of today's feast
  • Tie with hearts:  "God so loved..." (gospel)
  • Not shown (cropped out)
    • Brown suspenders, slacks, socks, and sandals:  wood of the Cross
    • 'Kneeling person' tie bar (see here):  At Jesus' name every knee should bend (2nd reading)
    • 'Serpent' tie pin (see here):  God sent saraph serpents; Moses made a bronze serpent (1st reading); "As Moses lifted up the serpent, so must the Son be lifted up." (gospel)
Music
Pope Francis
Angelus:  The Father's gift of the Son resulted in Jesus' death on the Cross, necessary because of the evil that kept us slaves.  The Cross expresses both the negative forces of evil and the gentle omnipotence of God’s mercy; it appears to declare failure but marks victory.  His mockers said, "If you're God's Son, come down," but actually he was there because he was God's Son.
When we look to the Cross, we contemplate our salvation, God's love for each of us.  The Cross is the source of the God's mercy that embraces the world.  Through it, evil is overcome, death is defeated, and we're given life and hope.  It's our hope; that's why the Church 'exalts' it and why we bless ourselves with the sign of the cross.  We don’t exalt crosses, just the Cross of Christ, sign of God’s love and our salvation and journey towards the resurrection.
Remember and pray for those persecuted for their faith.  At the foot of the Cross, there was Mary, the Virgin of Sorrows we celebrate tomorrow.  To her I entrust the Church, so we may discover and accept the Cross's message of love and salvation.
Homily at today's marriage of 20 couples:  Imagine the journey through the desert:  families, people of all ages, some struggling, as the Church making her way today.  Think of families and their experiences:  mutual help, support, developing relationships, joys, difficulties.  Families are where we're first formed and also society's building blocks.
In the story, the people became impatient, complained, and were tempted to turn back.  Think of married couples who become impatient and weary, losing matrimony's flavor and not drawing water from the Sacrament's well.  In the story, during moments of disorientation, serpents came, many people died, and people turned to Moses, who prayed to God who offered the bronze serpent as remedy; God didn't destroy the serpents but offered an antidote.  Jesus identified himself with this symbol:  out of love the Father gave his Son, and the Son became man, became a servant, and died for us, and the Father raised him up and gave him dominion.  Whoever entrusts himself to Jesus receives God's mercy and healing.  God gave his Son to save spouses who become impatient, discouraged, unfaithful, or weak.  If they entrust themselves to him, he'll heal them by the love poured forth from the Cross, with grace to renew and restore.
Christ's love, which sanctified marriage, can sustain and renew its love and joy.  Marriage is about spouses walking together, helping each other to become their true selves.  It's demanding, not smooth or easy, but it's real life!   It's the Sacrament of the love of Christ and the Church, a love which finds its proof and guarantee in the Cross. 
Read
    Words of today's readings
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  • Nm 21:4b-9 People to God and Moses:  “Why have you brought us from Egypt to die?  We're disgusted with this wretched food!”  The Lord sent saraph serpents; many people died.  People:  “We sinned in complaining.  Pray that God take them away.”  Lord:  “Mount a saraph on a pole, and if any look at it, they will live.”  Moses did, and so it was.
  • Ps 78:1bc-2, 34-38  "Do not forget the works of the Lord!"  They sought him, remembering God was their rock and redeemer, but lied to him and were unfaithful.  He forgave them and turned back his anger.
  • Phil 2:6-11  Christ, though in the form of God, emptied himself, came in human likeness, humbled himself, obeyed to death on a cross.  God exalted him.  Every knee shall bend at Jesus' name, every tongue confess him as Lord.
    • Jn 3:13-17  Jesus to Nicodemus:  “As Moses lifted up the serpent, so must the Son be lifted up.  God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.  God sent the Son to save, not condemn."
    Reflect
      • Creighton:  We exalt the cross of Christ, even choosing it as our central symbol.  Paul:  Jesus’ cross becomes the occasion for his transformation; his embracing the cross restored his divine dignity and glory. / God told Moses to mount a bronze serpent and assured him that whoever looked up at it would be saved.  (BTW the bronze serpent is the symbol of medical healing professions.)
      • One Bread One Body:  At the cross, our values change, and we get in touch with reality. We humble ourselves and share in Jesus' exaltation.
      • Passionist:  An alternate view of the 2nd reading is that Jesus emptied himself of the tendency to be self-absorbed, to grasp "equality with God," and in that emptying gave his life for us.  ("The Man for Others," Robinson, in A Theology of Christ:  Sources, ed. Zamoyta, 1967)  To follow Jesus, I must empty myself of the desire to be the center of everything, the 'god' of my life, empty myself of looking at others and creation in terms of what I can get from them.  "Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do thy will" (3rd step prayer, Alcoholics Anonymous "big book"4th ed., p. 63).  The world needs the gift of Christ, and God pours out the grace we need to become people for others.  May God empty us of the desire to gratify ourselves, and give us grace to follow Jesus, so all may know his love!

        • DailyScripture.net:   "The Son of Man must be lifted up" like Moses lifted the bronze serpent to restore those bitten by serpents (because of their refusal to follow God).  Jesus' death on the cross proved God's love for us, brought decisive victory, canceled our debt, released us from condemnation, and brought us new life.  God's love is limitless:  "God loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love." (St. Augustine)  God's love, rooted in truth, goodness, and mercy, frees us to love and serve.  Do I allow God's love to shape how I treat others? to transform my mind? to conquer whatever would enslave me?
        • Universalis:  We rejoice that God transformed something at terrible as the cross to the means of our redemption.  Christianity is not abstract:  God intervened in human affairs with a historical event involving real people and a real execution.