Homily for September 14, 2016. Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Bible Study: Numbers 21, 4 to 9. Philippians 2, 6 to 11 and John 3, 13 to 17.
How often do you look at the cross? Do you even have one in your home, your car or your office? What feelings are evoked in your heart when you look at the cross? Has the cross become a mere decoration for you? Or a part of your dressing? When you look at the cross, I do not know what you see but I want to tell you what I see whenever I look at it.
I see Jesus looking sad and wretched hanging with both arms outstretched and his head facing down. I see his blood dripping down from his side and I see the crowd staring, laughing and making mockery of him. I see the soldiers doing their job and dividing his cloak among them. I see Mary standing around the corner looking intently at her son and the sword piercing through her soul. I see the tears of Jesus, I see his exasperation ad his inner distress. I look at his face and I hear the seven words he spoke on the cross:
1. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
2. “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
3. “Behold your son: behold your mother.”
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
5. “I thirst.”
6. “It is finished.”
7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
Then I ask myself; “if Jesus can forgive right there on the cross, why do I still hold grudges against people for their minor offences?” Why do I think that people should not insult me or spit at me when my Lord himself suffered all these in silence?
Even on the cross, one of the thieves mocked Jesus but the other acknowledged his guilt and to him Jesus said: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Imagine how humbling it must have been for Jesus to be hung between two thieves. “Why am I often so proud?” St. Paul tells us in our second reading today that Jesus so humbled himself even to the point of accepting death on the cross but because of this, his name is above all names. Why am I ashamed of humbling myself and accepting humiliations?
I look at the Cross and I see Mary being held by John at the foot of the cross and I remember how Jesus handed over his own Mother to us. Then I wonder why do I forget to say my rosary? Why do I push my mother aside?
I look at the cross and I remember how Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Then I ask myself, “Why am I so impatient and anxious when I pray and I do not get immediate answers to my prayers? Why do I get angry with God and feel that he has betrayed me when things do not go my way?
When I look at the Cross, I hear again the cry of Jesus “I thirst”. Jesus thirsted for me, he thirsted for my salvation, he thirsted for my soul, he thirsted for my attention. This was the kind of water he needed. But what did he get? Laughter and mockery. How sad?
I look at the cross again and I hear the words, “It is finished.” Which means “I have done it.” “I have obeyed to the end.” “I have completed the race.” Why don’t I ask God for the specific assignment he gave to me and also finish it like Jesus did?
The last words of Jesus are “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” If I was told I would not see the next morning, I bet you I will not have a sound sleep, but I must stop deceiving myself and accept that my death would come one day so all I need is simply to be prepared.
Dear friends, the next time you look at the cross, do not just stare at it like a piece of wood, rather stare at the scenario, look beyond the image you see and focus on Jesus. Listen to these seven words again and I bet you, you would receive healing as well just like the Israelites did when they looked at the fiery serpent in our first reading today. The fiery serpent made by Moses was just a prelude to the Cross of Jesus that was to come, it that ordinary bronze serpent could heal, how much more the real cross which we have with us today?
Far from being an object of disgrace, the cross has become our symbol of victory over the world, our ticket to salvation. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus said to Nicodemus: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, may I not just stare at your cross but receive eternal life through it. Amen.
Good morning. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you.