September 14, 2016

Holy Cross Exaltation

September 14, 2016:  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, belt, and sandals:  Wood of the Cross
  • Red shirt:  Color of today's feast
  • 'Kneeling person' tie bar (still needs repair, so see here):  At Jesus' name every knee should bend (2nd reading)
For 2nd reading kenosis hymn

    Pope Francis
    General audience:  In “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest,” the Lord calls the discouraged, the poor, and little ones to himself, telling them they can always rely on God.  Trust in God’s mercy and open your hearts to him, even if you feel unworthy, and you'll be filled with the joy of forgiveness.  It's not the spirit of Jesus to distance yourself from people, especially the poor.
    When we approach the Lord’s mercy, we discover his “easy yoke”; he bears our burdens and shows us the way to salvation; by participating in his sufferings and learning from his service to the poor, we come to know God's will for us.  When you're tired or despondent, don't be afraid.  Come to Christ, trust in him, rest in him, and joyously serve him.
    Mass for Fr. Jacques Hamel:  Fr. Jacques Hamel, murdered while celebrating Mass by two men swearing allegiance to the "Islamic State," is part of the chain of Christian martyrs that runs throughout Church history.  Today there are more Christian martyrs than at the beginning of Christianity; Christians are murdered, tortured, imprisoned, or have their throats slit because they won't deny Jesus Christ.  Fr. Hamel was a good, meek, courageous man who always tried to build peace.  We must pray to him to grant us meekness, brotherhood, peace, and courage to tell the truth: to kill in God's name is satanic.
      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."
            • Creighton:  Our patience can wear thin like the Israelites' was.  We can snap at those we love, then regret it in the morning when rest is restored, we regain our sensibilities and see what seemed overwhelming as small.  By pausing we regain perspective and restore a realistic outlook.  Friends and loved ones can help with encouragement and acts of kindness, but they can also lead us to darkness, doubt, and self-pity.  Hope for the right friends when hardship comes.  Even then we can struggle in hard times. Why is it so hard to accept encouragement when we can easily accept voices leading us into doubt?  Why do we listen to a chorus of blame over one of praise?  It reminds us that we're not like God, sometimes at war with him.  But God chooses to show us mercy.  Jesus, fully God, became human, one of us, even in suffering and death.  His patience was tested, he got frustrated when his friends didn't get his teaching, he laughed with his friends, sought their companionship, had compassion on those others wrote off.  Jesus shows us we matter to God, who seeks after us and offers to restore us, even giving his life.  As we identify with Jesus and share in the community of his followers, may we grow more patient and steadfast in our struggles....
            • One Bread, One Body:  "Near the Cross":  "When I behold the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride":  when we look at the cross, we can change dramatically.  "They shall look on him whom they pierced."  "The centurion, seeing how he died, declared, 'Clearly he was the Son of God!'"  When we see Jesus lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent, we're drawn to believe and "have eternal life in him."  Paul transformed hearts by speaking of "Jesus Christ and him crucified,"  proclaiming the gospel by displaying Jesus Christ upon the cross.  Consider looking for ten seconds a day at a representation of Jesus on the cross.  Jesus will transform you; you'll proclaim, "May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord!  Through it, the world has been crucified to me and I to it."
              Moses and the brazen serpent/ Bourdon
            • Passionist:  How often do we feel our patience is worn out by our journey?  Today’s feast reminds us to turn to the cross.  There is no greater love than God's for us.  He didn’t come to take away our suffering or challenges but to share in them with us, to be with us in life’s difficult moments.  In our struggle, strife, and challenge may we turn to the Lord on the cross and allow his love to pour over us.  In the cross we find our hope.
            •  "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.
            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.
            • 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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