Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday word, 14 Sep 2007

Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 Sep 2007) Nb 21. 4b-9; Ps 178; Phil 2. 6-11; Jn 3. 13-17
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Wearing Jesus’ Cross

We trace this Solemnity of our Lord Jesus to two events in history. The first was the 4th-century dedication of the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on this day. Sts. Constantine and Helen, his mothe
r, honored the places where Jesus died and rose and built a church over them. The second event was the recovery of Jesus’ cross from Persians in the 7th century, an event which led the church to mark with this festival.

This festival of the Lord is not dark; Its focus and its invitation is glory not passion and agony. A phrase we associate with Lent captures its glory and shapes and guides our prayer: We adore you O Christ, and we praise you because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world!

Jesus’ death and resurrection transformed the cross from an instrument of death to the source of healing. The ultimate healing, of course, we name salvation, sharing in his risen life. We share it already in part, and when Jesus returns in glory we will share it completely.

That means that we not only gaze upon the cross, touch it and even kiss it--all three signs of reverence and affection. We wear the cross. As I shared with our children at their mass this morning, we wear the cross each time we trace it on our bodies, In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Think of it: when we trace our Christian badge on ourselves, it does not cause us fear or pain. Jesus transformed the cross, canceling its fear and pain. When we trace our Christian badge on ourselves it increases our confidence, reminds us of our source of peace, Jesus, and that our lives give him witness.

To paraphrase a native of India, who had an encounter with Jesus which led him to be a Christian missionary: ‘If we do not wear the cross of [our] Master, the cross of the world, with all its earthly goods, will weigh heavily upon us. Which cross have you taken up?’ Sundar Singh asked. Indeed, the cross of the world, in whatever form it takes, has a biting sting only Jesus’ cross can heal.
The statement of Sundar Singh (1889-1929) about the two crosses is:

“If we do not bear the cross of the Master, we will have to bear the cross of the world, with all its earthly goods. Which cross have you taken up? Pause and consider.

It may be found in Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter.

One sketch of Sunday Singh may be found at this link.
Wiki-image is used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license.

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