14 Sep – Feast of the Triumph of the Cross
The cross on which Jesus, the Son of man, was lifted up has become the symbol of his victory over the power of evil. He made the instrument of humiliation, torture and death the instrument of our redemption.
– the Daily Missal
Faithful are the wounds of a friend. – Proverbs 27:6a
On the way through the wilderness the people lost patience. They spoke against God and against Moses, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? For there is neither bread nor water here: we are sick of this unsatisfying food.”
At this God sent fiery serpents among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel. The people came and said to Moses, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede for us with the Lord to save us from these serpents.” Moses interceded for the people, and the Lord answered him, “Make a fiery serpent and put it on a standard. if anyone is bitten and looks at it, he shall live.” So Moses fashioned a bronze serpent which he put on a standard, and if anyone was bitten by a serpent, he looked at the bronze serpent and lived.
The state of Jesus Christ was divine,
yet he did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave,
and became as men are:
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings
in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much
that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.”
Whenever something terrible happens in our life, we always ask, “Why? Why must this happen to me?” Often, we pray to God to ask him to remove our troubles, and make life peaceful again. But God doesn’t always do so, and then we ask again, “Why?”
In the first reading, we read that God sent the fiery serpents when the Hebrew people spoke against God and his prophet Moses. When the people asked for deliverance, God didn’t take away the fiery serpents. He could have, but he didn’t. Rather, he let the fiery serpents remain in the camp, and had Moses fashion a bronze serpent. The people just had to look at it, and they were saved. Why this troublesome method? Perhaps because it allowed the people to make a choice – to look or not to look.
You know how when some people fall sick, they remain stubborn and refuse to see a doctor, thinking that they can get well on their own, and then fall sicker and sicker? Well, sin is like that. When we fall into sin, we often think that we can get out of it on our own. Then we fall deeper and deeper into sin. This is especially true for sexual sins, because we feel guilty about committing them and are embarrassed to confess it.
Eventually some of us wake up and realise that we can’t overcome sin on our own; we need God’s help. We find an understanding priest to help us reconcile with God and the Church, and all of a sudden we realise that Jesus, through the priest, isn’t in the business of condemning people to hell, but is in the business of reconciling us to God.
But there will always be a handful of people who continue to think that they can do it on their own, all the while falling deeper and deeper into sin. Sometimes there’s a good spell, and we can go for two, maybe three months, then there’s a relapse and things get bad for us again.
Let us try to remember this basic truth: Jesus has died on the cross for our sins, to free us from our bondage to sin, to reconcile us back to God. Let his death for us not be in vain; let us look at the cross and believe in his saving love and grace.
Prayer: We pray today for all who, because of their pride, refuse to believe in Jesus’ saving love, that they may come to realise that Jesus is not out to condemn them, but to love them.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: His love which knows no bounds.
Thu, 14 Sep – Numbers 21:4b-9 or Philemon 2:6-11; John 3:13-17; Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Fri, 15 Sep – 1 Hebrews 5:7-9; John 19:25-27 or Luke 2:33-35; Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Sat, 16 Sep – 1 Corinthians 10:14-22; Luke 6:43-49; Memorial for St. Cornelius, pope, & Cyprian, bishop, martyrs
Sun, 17 Sep – Isaiah 50:5-9a; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35; Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.