Saturday, September 14, 2013

Gospel Reflection

September 14, 2013
Saturday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
by Rev. Fr. David 'Dave' T. Buenaventura, SDB
Councilor & Pugad Centre Director and Counsellor, St. John Bosco Parish, Makati
7:30AM Mass, St. John Bosco Parish Church, Makati

Reading 1 Nm 21:4b-9

With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses, “Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.” Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent  looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Responsorial Psalm PS 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Hearken, my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable,
I will utter mysteries from of old.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
While he slew them they sought him
and inquired after God again,
Remembering that God was their rock
and the Most High God, their redeemer.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But they flattered him with their mouths
and lied to him with their tongues,
Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him,
nor were they faithful to his covenant.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But he, being merciful, forgave their sin
and destroyed them not;
Often he turned back his anger
and let none of his wrath be roused.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Reading 2 Phil 2:6-11

Brothers and sisters: Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel Jn 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “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.


My dear brothers and sisters, this morning, we are celebrating the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I would like to begin with a popular hymn which beautifully expresses our sentiments today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The hymn runs like this:

"Lift high the Cross, the love of Christ proclaimed,
Till all the world adore His Sacred Name."

My dear brothers and sisters, we are celebrating today an important feast, for two reasons. Number one, to recall a historic event that proved to be extremely important in the life of the Christian Church. And secondly, to underline the importance of the symbol and the reality of the Cross in the daily life of every Christian.

In the year 326 A.D., St. Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine, longed to find the Cross of Christ. And so she organized an excavation at the foot of Calvary, in Jerusalem. The diggers uncovered three wooden crosses, but they could not tell which of these three was the Cross where the Lord Jesus Christ was nailed. So what they did was they brought a sick woman and a dead man who was being carried to be buried. And the three crosses were placed one after the other on the sick woman, and on the dead man. Two of the crosses had no effect whatsoever. But on contact with the third cross, the sick woman was healed of her infirmity, and the dead man came to life. These miracles clearly indicated which of the three crosses was the Holy Cross.

The patriarch of Jerusalem, Macarius, standing on a raised platform, lifted high the Cross, exalting it for all to see. And St. Helen ordered a church to be built over the site. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was consecrated on September 13, 335 A.D. Also known as the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the church is regarded today as the holiest place on earth, by Christians of all denominations.

Today, the sign of the Cross has become a universal Christian symbol. It is just so unfortunate that our brothers and sisters who separated from us do not make the sign of the Cross. It appears that when you see someone making a sign of the Cross in a group or in a multitude of Christians, you would say that he is a Catholic Christian. It is so unfortunate but it is understandable, because those who separated from us, once they cut themselves off from the Mother Church, they lose history. They have no more history. What they have only is the Bible with them.

But you will never understand the value of the Bible unless you attach it with history. And I guess this is our precious treasure, that we belong to the Mother Church, and everything is intact with us. We have the Word of God, we have the sacraments, we have our Christian traditions. In short, we have the history of Christianity. And it moves on to develop itself, because it has been founded on the Church, with Peter as the visible head.

The Lord taught us that the Cross should be a constant feature in our daily lives as His followers. The Lord tells us that if anyone wants to become His follower, he should deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow the Lord. The command is to take up His Cross, it is not to drag it. Because for us, the Cross is the symbol of our Christian life. It is the symbol of the heart of our faith, which is love. The Cross tells us that our first relationship of love is with our Lord God. And our second relationship of love is with our fellowmen. Therefore, we do not drag our life but rather, we lift up our life, we carry our life, we take up our life, and never drag it.

To lift up the Cross the way Jesus asked us to, is a way of life. It is to accept self-denial and sacrifice as part of our daily life. Sacrifice means to give up something that is of value to us, for the sake of God and for the sake of our neighbor. That is the law of love. Love is measured by sacrifice. People who love much, sacrifice much. Yet, sacrifice does not make us poorer, but makes us richer. And this is what we see in Christ. This is what we see in the life of the saints. And this is what we are called to be.

Let us all today resolve to 'lift high the Cross, the life of Christ proclaimed, till all the world adore His Sacred Name'.

This is my Word of God for you today: 'The heart of Christianity is love. It is symbolized by the Cross. Greater love than this, no one has, than him who lays down his life for his friends'. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.