Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday word, 14 Sep 14

Nothing More Noble
Exaltation of the Holy Cross A (14 Sep 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Our responsorial psalm called us to remember: Do not forget the works of the Lord! The Lord’s work we recall today is the cross. His cross is our badge, our insignia. When you hear me echo the psalm, “Do not forget,” shout, “We remember!” Let’s practice that. …Now we can begin.

Jerusalem was destroyed two generations after Jesus rose from the dead. The places of his death and resurrection faded in the shadowy mists of time and memory. The 4th-Century Emperor Constantine and his mother shared a deep desire to speak by action, Do not forget!”

St. Helena went to Jerusalem and sought places where Jesus lived and walked. In Jerusalem a pagan temple was atop the place of Jesus’ tomb. She said to herself, Do not forget!” She had it torn down. Her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. In building builders found three crosses. A memory has it: the cross on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman. Jesus heals us by transforming us. Do not forget!”

From that moment people venerated his cross. An ancient eye-witness on Good Friday in the basilica recalled the veneration liturgy. Its wood was taken out of its silver chest. It was placed on a table with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus. The eyewitness recalled: “all the people pass by one by one, all bowing themselves, they touch the Cross and the title, first with their foreheads and then with their eyes; then they kiss the Cross & pass….”
1 We do that, too; so we Do not forget!”

Our images and replicas of the holy cross are things of beauty. They lead our processions; they shield our hearts. Yet the tree on which Jesus died was not for beauty but for torture: Do not forget!” Crosses horrified the first Christians and many others: Do not forget!” But appearance did not stop the first Christians from echoing Jesus; he called the cross his glory. Do not forget!”

Today the cross does not threaten us. We freely make crosses beautiful and noble. Sadly some in the world do not tolerate the cross. Do not forget!” Nothing is more noble than the cross we trace on ourselves. Do not forget!” When we trace the cross on ourselves, we allow God in Jesus by their Spirit to transform us. Do not forget!” We are crucified with our Messiah,2 Do not forget!” We still live our human lives, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us.3 Do not forget!”

Our life of faith is no theory; it is not abstract. Do not forget!” Our life of faith affects our world! Do not forget!” Our life of faith is for our world! Do not forget!” Our life of faith changes our world beginning with the ways we choose to live in it! Do not forget!”

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God who decided from their eternity that the Second Person become one of us to save humans and enlighten us.
  • Ask St. Paul, St. Helena and your patron saint to welcome you into the bright shadow of Jesus’ cross.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for giving his life so you may have life eternal.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to remember with your heart and feel more deeply Jesus’ died and rose for you. Do not forget!”
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave it to us so we would carry his works with us and do them by the power of his Spirit. Do not forget!”

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. The Pilgrimage of Etheria. M.L. McClure and C. L. Feltoe, ed. and trans. London: SPCK, 1919, pp 74-75. 
  2. Galatians 2.19.
  3. Galatians 2.20—I rendered Paul’s testimony plural for this homily. 


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