Sunday, September 14, 2014
Triumph of the Cross
1st Reading: Num 21:4-9
2nd Reading: Phil 2:6-11
Gospel: John 3:13-17
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one has ever gone up to heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man.
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through him the world is to be saved.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
The bronze serpent which Moses lifted up summarized the chosen peoples’ afflictions in the desert. The instruction of Moses to look upon the bronze serpent was also an invitation to the people to reflect upon their experience of crisis, examine how they contributed to their woes, and allow their afflictions to bend their will to the will of Yahweh. All those who did were healed.
That bronze serpent prefigured Jesus Christ who was later raised on a tree, crucified to bring healing to his people. When he breathed his last, a centurion who looked upon him hanging from that tree exclaimed: “Truly he is the Son of God” (Mark 15:39). While the bronze serpent brought physical healing to God’s afflicted people, Christ crucified brought healing to the soul.
The desert experience of God’s people is a good framework we can use to understand our struggles, specifically our struggle with the environment. Nature seems to have had its last straw and is now getting back at us, oppressing us with impunity. As Moses hoisted the symbol of the peoples’ afflictions, Mother Nature is hoisting before us the symbol of our irresponsibility in the calamities that afflict us.
Mother Nature does not mean to get even with us. She only wants us to reflect and to shape up. Through these calamities Mother Nature is inviting us to reflect on how we have provoked her. Through prayerful reflection these calamities can become for us the bronze serpent that brings healing. But it can only bring healing if we allow the experience to reconfigure our lives to the stewardship that God had designed for us from the beginning of time. The experience should compel us to draw firm resolutions that amend our lives. Only then can God bring healing to our land.
Crisis comes closer to home when we talk about the impact of climate change on health issues. We are afflicted by so many illnesses that multiply faster than medical science can cope. With prayerful reflection, however, these become rich resources for spiritual growth. Imagine the rich meaning a bed-ridden patient can derive from his confinement if after a life of loose morals sickness moves him to repentance! With prayerful reflection, the physical pain sickness inflicts even purges a person of all attachments to sin. If we approach life this way, our crosses become sources of salvation.
The next time crises appear as overwhelming as Moses’ towering bronze serpent, let us reflect in prayer and lift Jesus up as the meaning of them all. – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website:www.frdan.org.
Prayer for the day: God our Father, as we thank you for the gift of salvation, we ask you for the gift of faith so that we may find meaning in the crosses we carry. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
FEAST OF THE DAY: EXALTATION OF THE CROSS. The cross, formerly a symbol of punishment and death, has been exalted by Jesus as the stairway to paradise. As St. Paul said: We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called , Jews and Greek alike, Christ is the power of and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:23-24). There can be no Christian without the cross. As Jesus said: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross everyday and follow me (Luke 9:23). The feast of the triumph of the Cross is connected with the recovery of the sacred relic in 629.