Sunday, September 14, 2008

Feast of the Triumph of the Cross - homily

“We will never forget”. We heard our national motto regarding 9/11 much last week as we commemorated the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks. We will never forget that it was one of the most evil events in the history of the world. We will never forget the tremendous good that came out of that evil. We will never forget the many acts of heroism by men and women in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania that day. We will never forget the unity, patriotism, and spirituality of those days. Most importantly, we will never forget those who lost their lives that day. We never forget so that their spirit will always live among us.

Today, we celebrate the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. In today’s responsorial psalm, we heard, “do not forget the works of the Lord”. In a special way, we commemorate another evil event of immense proportions: the Crucifixion. We remember the works of the Lord, particularly the works of the Lord on the Cross. We celebrate this feast as a victory, for it is through the Cross of Christ that we have won victory over sin and death. It is through the Cross that we have the forgiveness of sins. It is through the Cross that we have been saved.

Today’s readings get right to the heart of what this feast is all about. In the second reading, St. Paul points out clearly and deeply what Christ did for us on the Cross in the beautiful canticle that is in his letter to the Phillipians. He says that Christ “emptied himself”, “humbled himself”, and became “obedient to the point of death” for us.

He emptied himself for us. Picture a glass of water being poured out; it is emptied completely with nothing left in it. Christ emptied himself completely for us. He poured himself out with nothing left. He gave every ounce of energy, every drop of blood for us.

He humbled himself for us, “taking the form of a slave”, a servant. The Cross is the greatest sign of humility the world has ever seen. Christ came down from his throne in Heaven to become one of us…to be humiliated for us. On the Cross, he was totally humiliated, naked, and vulnerable. Because of his humility, he has been exalted.

He became obedient to the point of death, “even death on a cross”. Christ always says yes to the Father. He always said yes to the Father’s Plan to save us. Today’s Gospel reveals the Father’s Plan: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him”. Jesus continued to say yes to saving yes, being obedient even to the point of death on a Cross.

There really shouldn’t be a day that goes by when we don’t remember what Jesus has done for us - even a simple, “thank you, Jesus”. When we come to Mass, we remember what Jesus did for us on the Cross, and that he gave his life for us. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we remember the works of the Lord; we remember all the blessings He has given us. In a special way, we remember his sacrifice on the Cross. It is in this remembering that He is made present among us. He is made present not just in spirit, but in body, blood, soul, and divinity under the signs of bread and wine by the power of the Spirit.

Let us never forget the works of the Lord, particularly the work of our salvation on the Cross. Let us remember this day and every day this week what Christ has done for us – that he emptied himself, humbled himself, and was obedient to death for each and every one of us.


At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I hear a statement like, “his spirit will live among us,” I ask myself the question- what is our spirit? I use to think the word was interchangeable with soul, but St. Paul clearly describes our being sanctified in our whole being as “body, soul and spirit.” So, what exactly is one’s spirit and how would it live among us? If a soul goes to Heaven, where does the spirit go?

At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two things I struggle with concerning carrying one’s cross;

I wonder if I’m strong enough to carry it. I find myself thinking, “Do you think you could have made this cross out of balsa wood?”

And, I’m not always sure the reason I’m carrying my cross is in the best interest of those it affects. I start questioning my choice; “Do I keep trudging ahead, do I keep trudging ahead but change my path or do I just put the stinkin’ thing down, with a loud, deliberate thunk and admit total confusion and/or defeat to its’ purpose?”

At 10:54 AM, Blogger fran said...

Cathecism of the Catholic Church:

[362] The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once coproreal and spiritual.. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.

[363] In Sacred Scripture the term "soul" often refers to human life or the entire human person. But "soul" also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God's image: "soul" signifies the spiritual principle in man.

[365] The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

[367] Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people "wholly," with "spirit and soul and body" kept sound and blameless at the Lords's coming. The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul. "Spirit" signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God.

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree it is important to remember every day our Lord's horrific death on the cross. About one year ago, I was given a small silver crucifix on a a chain. I wear it every day and often forget I am wearing it.

However, it has been amazing to observe others' reaction to it. I have had strangers stare at it and then encountered hostility. People who I know casually.....look at it and offer advice. Worldly unsolicited advice........Such as "If you ever want to date, you might not want to wear that necklace."

Sometimes I notice that strangers will smile at me and the crucifix.
They say things like"Have a great day or Have a blessed day."

I used to wear a plain cross. Absolutely no reaction. Wearing the crucifix and all the different reactions does not cease to amaze me. During my lowest moments, I will hold it and remember that Jesus died for me, and I will weep for His suffering.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

In her homily on this subject matter yesterday, my Lutheran minister noted that unfortunately for many it seems that a cross is just another piece of jewelry, a bit of "bling." She mentioned the story of a parishioner whose only warning that he was about to get mugged was the flash of a cross on his attacker's dark clothing. For the parishioner, the disconnect between the attacker's jewelry and his actions was almost surreal.

At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally unrelated but...

I love Mary Tull! She's the director of religious ed at SAA, and she just called me to ask about registering my kids for Rel. Ed. She is truly a wonderful human being who makes it easy to want to bring children into the fold. If you have the opportunity to have children learn from her, take it!

At 7:50 PM, Blogger fran said...

Could we have carried the cross that Jesus carried? Could we have carried the cross that Mary carried? In answering those questions, I think most (all?) would agree that our crosses are indeed made of balsa wood, as someone so creatively put it.

"Suffering out of love for God is a signal favor, but we do not realize this. For we thank God for prosperity and take no heed that afflictions would be a much greater grace."
- St. Joseph of Cupertino

"If you suffer as you ought, the cross will become a preicous yoke that Jesus will carry with you."
- St. Louis Grignion de Montfort


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