September 14, 2015

Cross triumphs

September 14, 2015:  Exaltation of the Holy Cross

  • 'Rock' tie pin:  They remembered God was their rock (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, slacks, and sandals:  wood of the Cross
  • Red shirt:  color of today's feast
  • '?' tie pin:  "Who do people say I am?" / "Who do you say I am?" (yesterday's gospel)
  • 'Kneeling person' tie bar (still needs repair, so see here):  At Jesus' name every knee should bend (2nd reading)

      Pope Francis radio interviews
      Buenos AiresFriendship is sacred.  The Bible says "keep one or two friends."   Before considering someone your friend, let time test him.  I've been used by some who have claimed to be my ‘friends’; the utilitarian sense of friendship pains me.  We've all undergone 'utilitarian friendship.'
      Religious fundamentalism distances you from God; it's a darkness that robs us of horizon, closing us in convictions.   No religion is immune from fundamentalism, a group interested in an idea, not a reality.  Reality is superior.  God accompanies his people with his presence.  Our God is one of nearness, who accompanies.  Fundamentalists push God away from companionship; they dis-Incarnate him, transforming him into an ideology, an idol, to kill, attack, destroy, and lie in his name.  You, an Evangelist, I, a Catholic; let's work together for Jesus.
      Portugal:  The refugee crisis is the tip of an iceberg; underneath is the cause, an unjust socioeconomic system.  The person always has to be in the center.  We must work to help people not feel the need to emigrate.  Where the cause is hunger, we have to create work; where it's war, we must work for peace.  The world is at war against itself, bit by bit, but it's also at war against the land, because it's destroying the land, our common home.  I recognize the risk of welcoming refugees, but precautions can be taken.  Another problem is Europe's labor crisis.  Immigration is an international and timeless phenomenon; the low birth rate creates empty spaces others try to fill.  Europe’s greatest challenge is to return to be a mother Europe, not grandmother Europe.  The Church has also become too much of a grandmother, instead of a mother, incapable of generating life; I hope the Jubilee of Mercy will allow people to experience the Church as mother.  
      Pray for the Synod on the Family.  The family is in crisis.  Young people no longer get married.  The Synod will look at ways to help families living in situations contrary to Church teaching.  People who are in a second union are not excommunicated and should be integrated into Church life, the mass, catechesis, their children’s education, charity…  My life after becoming Pope has been an adventure, but I haven't lost the peace.  Read full interview
        Words of today's readings
      • 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."
          • Fr. Chris Bazyouros homily podcast:  Root your discipleship in Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection.  +After Mass he noted that though Prayers after Communion are normally directed to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit, today's is actually addressed directly to "Lord Jesus Christ."
            • Creighton:  Numbers retells historical events in the life of Israel.  Freed from Egypt. they complained God didn't care about them and sent them disgusting food.  Moses interceded; God provided relief through a serpent on a pole.  In the Gospel, Jesus spoke of salvation through One suspended on a pole.  Today's feast may commemorate St. Helena (Constantine's mother) finding the true Cross under dirt; it's also a "little Easter."  As Jesus embraced the Cross, God embraces the earth and humanity.  We exalt the Cross because Jesus' name trumps others.  When we live our true identity, we exalt the Cross to exalt of the loving God, that everyone confess Jesus as Lord.
            • One Bread One Body:  "No loss at this cross":  John proclaims that the cross is catalyst for faith leading to eternal life, and where we recognize Jesus is God.  As a subject of the King Jesus, I'm called to bear a daily cross.  Does my life proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord?
            • Passionist:  In Jn 3:16 is the heart of the proclamation of our salvation:  we're loved by God and saved by his Son so that we might live forever.  As the seraph is transformed from a symbol of death to a sign of healing, so too the Cross is transformed from something that wields death to a source of salvation and life.  In Philippians, imprisoned Paul inspires deeper love through self-emptying.  Suffering and death is transformed; the Cross signifies victory though emptying, not grasping.  The greatest feat in history is accomplished by the Lord who accomplishes all in the name of Love who has so loved each of us.
              Moses and the brazen serpent/ Bourdon
            •  Jesus came to raise us to heaven.  He tells Jewish leader Nicodemus that he's the Son of Man sent by the Father to restore our relationship with God.  "Son of Man" is an Old Testament title for the Messiah who comes from heaven to establish God's reign on the earth.  When Jesus says the "Son of Man must be lifted up?" he recalls Moses who "lifted up" the serpent to restore life to the serpent-bitten; the plague of death was from their refusal to follow God, and God answered Moses' prayer.  The bronze serpent fixed to the pole resembled a cross.  Those who repent of their disobedience are healed and restored to life.  Jesus links Moses' act of deliverance with his own upcoming crucifixion when he'll be "lifted up" on the cross.  Moses' deliverance resulted in temporary relief, but Jesus' death and resurrection brought decisive victory, cancelled the debt of sin, released us from condemnation, and brought us new life.  God's love, rooted in truth, goodness, and mercy, sets us free to love and serve others....
            • 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.

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