September 14, 2017

+ Exaltation

September 14, 2017:  Exaltation of the Holy Cross

  • 'Rock' tie pin:  They remembered God was their rock (psalm)
  • 'Car' pin with 'tongue':  They lied to him with their tongues (psalm)
  • Crucifix, 'blood drop' pin:  Jesus became obedient to death, death on a cross. (2nd reading)
  • Tie with hearts:  "God so loved..." (gospel); Their hearts weren't steadfast toward God (psalm)
  • 'Serpent' tie pin:  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)
  • Brown suspenders and sandals:  Wood of the Cross
  • Red shirt:  Color of today's feast
Listen
For 2nd reading kenosis hymn
For Psalm 78
Cultivate an attitude of listening and don't let nostalgia imprison you.  Authentic discernment, though definitive, is an open and necessary process, an antidote against rigidity; the same solutions aren’t valid everywhere. 
Ask whether yesterday’s proposals are still evangelically valid.  Evaluate God’s times.  Don't take the gift of discernment for granted.  Pray deeply and regularly to achieve balance in personal and ecclesiastical behavior.  Discernment must unfold in a community.  The Bishop is neither self-sufficient nor isolated.  Consult your brother bishops, priests, and the lay faithful.
Real people in concrete situations want to draw from the Church what’s most useful for the ‘today’ of their salvation.  All clergy must keep contact with ordinary people, or else faith can degenerate into indifference or superstition.  Be attentive to their religiosity; popular piety often shapes their self-understanding, and discernment must enter into dialogue with it.
Read
    Words of today's readings
    (animate)
  • Nm 21:4b-9 People to God and Moses:  “Why did you bring us from Egypt to die?  We're disgusted with this wretched food!”  The Lord punished them with saraph serpents; many people died.  People:  “We sinned in complaining.  Pray that God take them away.”  Lord:  “Mount a saraph on a pole; all who look at it 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.  Merciful, 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.  So 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:  "No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.”  Now that Jesus has come, everyone has the opportunity for salvation.  He came as a baby, human and vulnerable, like us.  He grew up as a human being, subject to human trials.  He shows us the way from where we are.  Jesus came out of love to save us all, to open heaven's gates, ascend, and lead us.  May we follow him here and to heaven.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Cross-fire":  May you see in a new way the cross and the One who hung and died on it for love of you.  May it penetrate, divide, and judge your thoughts and reflections.  Through it may you be crucified to the world and the world to you.  May today's celebration be the occasion for breakthroughs in many hearts and breakdowns of the devil's strongholds.  May Jesus draw all people to himself.

  • Passionist:  We recall our Savior on the cross, obedient, humbling and emptying himself, for us.  Jesus said that to follow him, we must take up our cross, even if our culture says we can have it all without suffering.  He also said, “My yoke is easy and my burden light” and invites us to come to him for rest when we're burdened.  He may not take our suffering away, but he'll fill it with his presence and walk with us.   And hard times and challenges we face are times to learn from and grow closer to the Lord....
    Deliverance from the serpents
    Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel)
  • DailyScripture.net:  "So must the Son of Man be lifted up":  Jesus came to raise those on earth to the glory of heaven.  Jesus tells Nicodemus he's the "Son of Man" the Father sent to restore our relationship with God.  The "Son of Man" is an Old Testament title for the Messiah who will establish God's kingdom.  Jesus recalls how Moses "lifted up" the serpent to bring healing and life to those bitten by deadly serpents.  This plague was because the people refused to follow God.  God, hearing Moses' prayer, told him to make a serpent, set it on a pole, and all who look on it shall live."  The serpent image fixed to the pole resembled a cross.  Those who put their faith in God were healed and restored.  Jesus links Moses' act with his upcoming sacrificial death when he'd be "lifted up" on the cross.  Unlike Moses' deliverance that gave temporary relief, Jesus' death on the cross brought decisive victory, cancelling the debt of our sin, releasing us from guilt and condemnation, bringing us new, everlasting life in his Spirit.  Jesus now rules at the Father's right hand, interceding for us.
Moses and the brazen serpent/ Bourdon
The greatest proof of God's love for us is that he sent his Son to become one of us and lay down his life for us, an act of total self-giving love.  His love embraces every individual.  God won't rest till all his children have returned home.  God gives us freedom to choose whom and what to love.  If our love is guided by truth, goodness, and true beauty, we'll choose God and love him above all.  Do I put God first in my thoughts, cares, choices, and actions?  Do I allow God's love to shape how I treat others, to transform my thoughts, to conquer unruly passions and addictions?  The Spirit gives us wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence that we may live and serve in God's way of love.
  • Catch the 2016 and 2015 homily videos of Fr. Chris Bazyouros.
  • Universalis:  Why exalt an instrument of torture?  We rejoice that God transformed it into a means of redemption.  It reminds us Christianity is no abstraction:  God intervened in world affairs.  Without the cross, Christianity is nonsense.