Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: To Be Lifted Up

No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, my weak nature still rebels at the thought of humiliation, sacrifice and hardships of many types. I still seek self-centered triumphs not rooted in love. I am energetic only for easy victories, loosing all resolve when the cost is high. Only by meditating on your most holy cross can I bolster my fighting spirit to accept totally all that I find hard and painful in my mission. Your cross will teach me that only through embracing the cross will my life’s most precious victories be granted. 

Petition: Grant me Lord, the grace to be captivated by the power and mercy that flows from your blessed cross. 

1. In order to be lifted up, I must be brought low “To be crucified, humanly speaking, is to be disgraced and humiliated. But from God’s point of view it means being lifted up, indeed, to be lifted up by means of the cross. Christ is the Lord and he becomes Lord of everything and everyone in this elevation by means of the cross. It is in this way that we look upon the cross, with the eyes of faith, instructed by the word of God, guided by the power of God. Here then is the mystery of the triumph of the cross.” (Pope John Paul II, Homily, Sept. 14, 1987, Phoenix, Arizona USA). Contemplate the mystery of God’s wisdom at work in the Son, and see how he longs to repeat it in me. I must accept with an open heart being “brought low” in every hard moment, knowing that only in trials can love be brought to perfection, only in suffering can God’s power be made more transparent to the world. 

2. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent The Israelites had to look up to the seraph mounted on a pole to be healed from the effects of their sins. (cfr Number 21, 4-9) This looking up was the act of faith Yahweh required to tie them to an event in the future that was foretold in the cross-like symbol. We must “look up” to be raised up by the cross. “Who could believe what we have heard and to whom has the power of Yahweh been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:23). No human logic – no matter how sophisticated – will reveal to me the mystery and the depth of the victory that flows from the cross of Christ. Only faith will unleash its power in my soul. Only by approaching the person of Christ with a total embrace of this salvific act, looking up to this Lord wounded out of love for me, can I be healed of all my resentments, vain calculations, doubts and bitter complaints before all that costs me in life. 

3. God so loved the world The world is in a frenzy for having created a culture of counterfeit love. Only by preaching Christ crucified, only by living from the sign of what God has done for each one personally, in all of its unforgettable and brutal objectivity, can we redeem the meaning of the human heart and leave no room for misunderstanding. Do we know, really know what God has done? Love for God and in God is neither an emotion nor a sentiment, neither a convenience nor power play. His love is built on the total and unconditional gift of himself through his Son. We are redeemed in many ways through the cross, but perhaps the most compelling part of this act, is the response in kind God provokes in every believer who experiences what God in a scourged and tortured human body is doing for him: caritas Christi urget nos—the love of Christ compels us.  

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, I am compelled before the long and painful hours you spent on the cross for me to accept more joyfully my struggles in life. I will work to stop all envy and self-pity and now return gratitude to you for my hardships. You so loved the world that you sent your only Son, and you have so loved me that you sent me my crosses so that I could experience your Son’s victory more completely every day. I cast away all fear and mistrust and live with the confidence and hope that flows from the triumphant cross. 

Resolution: I will embrace some difficulty today out of love for Christ crucified.

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