Homily (Reflection) for the Feast of the Exaltation (Triumph) of the Cross (14th September, 2017) on the Gospel and the Feast
Ps 77:1-2.34-38. (R.v.7);
Emperor Constantine’s mother, Saint Helena, found the True Cross in Jerusalem in the fourth century. However, the Persians captured it and only returned it after Byzantine Emperor Heraclius defeated the Persian king Khosrau II. The feast of the Triumph of the Cross commemorates the return of the Holy Cross to Jerusalem by Emperor Heraclius in 629. This feast draws our attention to the cross of Jesus, the symbol of that great gift from God. It reminds us how much God loves the world, cf. Jn 3:16. And the way we ought to follow to enter eternal life.
Topic: Pick it up.
Jesus told Nicodemus that only He, the Son of Man, has ascended to heaven. He must be lifted up, “that whoever believes in him may have eternal life”. God loves the world to the point “that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” He did not send the Son to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.
Today’s gospel brings out the link between faith and salvation. Eternal life (salvation) is the outcome of believing in Jesus Christ, cf. Rom 10:13; Acts 16:31. Believing in Him entails doing what He tells us, cf. Matt 7:21.
Jesus tells us, “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved...” (Jn 10:9). Entering through Him implies following Him. And it requires one denying him/herself and coming with his/her own cross, cf. Matt 10:38. 16:24; Lk 9:23. 14:27.
Carrying cross involves self abasement, cf. Matt 27:42; Mk 15:32. It demands humility, cf. Phil 2:6-8. It is not a matter of compulsion like in the case of Simon of Cyrene, Matt 27:32; Mk 15:21; Lk 23:26. It must be total and willingly too, cf. 2Cor 9:7; Philem 1:14. However, attitude towards the cross might render it powerless, cf. 1Cor 1:17.
Denying oneself and picking cross call for Christlike attitude before any cross God wills for one, cf. Matt 6:10. 26:42; Lk 22:42; Acts 21:14. Cross in question is far from two pieces of wood joined together. It is found in the undesirables that come one’s way.
Before Christ died on the cross, it was something cursed and whoever dies on it is cursed, cf. Gal 3:13. However, Christ redefined the cross by carrying and dying on it. Hence Saint Paul writes, “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ...” (Gal 6:14). It is disheartening that many still live with the old meaning of the cross thereby making themselves its enemies, cf. Phil 3:18. Every child of God ought to pick his/her own cross and follow Christ as required.
Bible Reading: Phil 3:16–4:1; Col 1:15-23. 2:6-15.
Thought for today: ...take up your cross daily and follow Jesus, cf. Lk 9:23.
Let us pray: Lord, give me the heart to accept any cross you will for me – Amen.
Jesus Christ crucified on the cross – Have Mercy on us.
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