September 15, 2018

+ triumph

September 14, 2018:  Exaltation of the Holy Cross

See a dozen connections with today?
Legend below
For 2nd reading kenosis hymn
For Psalm 78
Pope Francis
Homily:  When we contemplate the cross, the mark of Christians, we contemplate a sign of both defeat and victory.  All that Jesus did during his life failed on the cross; his followers' hope came to an end.  Don't be afraid to contemplate the cross as a moment of defeat, of failure; Paul wasn't.  He says Jesus emptied himself, annihilated himself, was made sin, took our sins upon himself.  Paul wasn't afraid to show this defeat; this can enlighten our dark moments.
The complaining Israelites' punishment by serpents refers to the ancient serpent, Satan.  But the Lord told Moses that the death-dealing serpent would bring salvation.  Jesus, having been made sin, defeated the serpent, the author of sin.  Satan was so happy on Good Friday that he didn't notice the trap in which he was to fall.  He saw Jesus in such a bad state and swallowed him like a fish bait.  But he also swallowed Jesus' divinity and so was destroyed, and the cross became a sign of victory.
Look at the cross; it gives us strength to go forward.  The destroyed serpent still barks and threatens but is a chained dog (Augustine).  If you don't approach him, he won't bite, but if you try to caress him because you're attracted to him as if he were a puppy, he'll destroy you.  Our life goes on with Christ victorious and risen, but also with that dog, to whom I must not draw close lest he bite.
The cross teaches us that in life there's failure and victory.  We must tolerate defeat, bear our failures patiently, even those of our sins because he paid for us.  We must ask forgiveness in him, never allowing the dog to seduce us.  Spend time before the crucifix:  look at our sign of defeat that provokes persecutions and destroys that's also our sign of victory because it's where God was victorious.
To Capuchin Friars:  Push yourselves to live religious service and activities in gratuitousness and humility, following St. Francis's example.  With daily, concrete actions you'll bring to life the smallness that characterizes Francis’ followers.  Assume humility and simplicity, God’s way of life, in your lives and in missions.  True greatness is making yourself small and serving.  Then you'll share in the Church’s evangelization efforts.  Bring the apostolate into direct contact with the poor and suffering.  When you face difficulties, don't lose hope; let gospel joy give you strength and consistency.
People feel the need to be accepted, listened to, loved.  Your active participation in concrete problems, your spiritual conversation, and administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation create connections with people.  Your community life of “union and communion,” fulfilled through listening and conversing, to strengthen discernment, is important.  Your history includes courageous witnesses to Christ and the Gospel.  Total consecration to God, simple life among people, sensitivity to the poor, spiritual accompaniment, and humility that welcomes:  this is your identity.
    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. Brian Nunes homily videoThank God the death-dealing Cross gives us life, as the image of the deadly serpent came to cure the Israelites.
  • Creighton:  In today's celebration the Church proclaims that by Jesus' death on the Cross, he, the light, overcame the darkness.  The Cross is the doorway through darkness to light, a symbol of the victory of life over death, grace over sin.  The feast proclaims that God's power destroys sin and so defeats death. Love overcomes hatred; hope overcomes despair.  The Israelites were “bitten” by a longing for the security of slavery they knew; they were “bitten” by the serpents of fear, laziness, and refusal to mature.  When faced with the natural outcome of death by such a life of escapism, they pleaded to Moses and God.  God told Moses to display a serpent, so they could see what was destroying them.  Similarly, sinless Jesus chose to take on our sin and was lifted up so we may see the truth of sin in our lives.  If we want life and healing, we must take on the pattern of Christ.  Today's feast invites us to desire God’s will above ours, to be free to love and be loved, possible only in God.  We were made for this and long for it but allow ourselves to be satisfied with less....
  • One Bread, One Body:  "He wins!"  Jesus overturned the shame and defeat of the cross, transforming the cross into a symbol of victory.  The serpent is a "type" of the cross:  an instrument of death, it became a sign of life once on the pole. We are to be such a sign, carrying "the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed....  We are constantly being delivered to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our flesh."  We deny our very selves, take up our cross, and crucify ourselves to the world.  To those under the influence of the world, the flesh, and the devil, we seem dead, yet we're like the mounted serpent, or Jesus on the cross. When those who dismiss us hurt, they may turn to us for compassion and healing.  "Mercy triumphs over judgment."  Jesus crucified triumphs over death, sin, pride, and the world.  Celebrate and rejoice. Carrying our cross leads to risen life. In Jesus crucified, we are more than conquerors.
  • Deliverance from the serpents
    Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel)
  • Passionist:  Rejoice in the salvation and healing won for us by the Cross of Jesus.  “We adore you O Christ and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have saved the world.”
The Israelites were so worn out by their journey that they forgot the blessing of their deliverance from servitude and complained against God and Moses.  In our dark times we too can forget the bright ones showing God's lavish kindness.
  •  "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.
  • 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.
Dress legend
  • '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)
  • 'Rock' tie pin:  They remembered God was their rock (psalm)
  • 'Car with open mouth' pin:  I'll open my mouth in a parable; they flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues (psalm)
  • 'Boundless mercy' pin:  He, being merciful, forgave their sin... (psalm)
  • 'LOVE' suspenders, 'hearts' tie:  "God so loved the world..." (gospel); their hearts weren't steadfast toward God (psalm)
  • 'Math class' pin (with formulas with =-sign):  Jesus didn't regard equality with God something to be grasped (2nd reading)
  • Crucifix, 'blood drop' pin:  Jesus became obedient to death, death on a cross (2nd reading)
  • 'Wood block' tie pin:  Wood of the Cross
  • Red shirt:  Color of today's feast

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