|Choosing Forgiveness |
|Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. We might still feel hurt by someone, but we can choose to forgive. That begins healing the wounds we have received.|
Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Early in the fourth century St. Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ's life. She razed the second-century Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior's tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.
The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus' head: Then "all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on."
To this day the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica's dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.
"How splendid the cross of Christ! It brings life, not death; light, not darkness; Paradise, not its loss. It is the wood on which the Lord, like a great warrior, was wounded in hands and feet and side, but healed thereby our wounds. A tree has destroyed us, a tree now brought us life" (Theodore of Studios).
Daily Prayer - 2015-09-14
The more we call on God
the more we can feel God's presence.
Day by day we are drawn closer
to the loving heart of God.
It is so easy to get caught up
with the trappings of wealth in this life.
Grant, O Lord, that I may be free
from greed and selfishness.
Remind me that the best things in life are free.
Love, laughter, caring and sharing.
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence.
Teach me to recognise your presence in others.
Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.
The Word of God
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
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.
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!
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.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
- If all the Gospels had been lost except the verse given here, 'God so loved the world...' (John 3:16), that alone would be enough to give hope to humankind! Here we have the heart of the Good News: the limitless love of God for us all, proved by his sending his Son to bring us home into eternal life. The rest of the New Testament is a commentary on this truth.
- Let me spend some moments savouring the fact that despite all its pain, malice and sin, everyone, including myself, is eternally loved by God.
What feelings are rising in me as I pray and reflect on God's Word?
I imagine Jesus himself sitting or standing near me and open my heart to him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning,
is now and ever shall be,
world without end.
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Feast)
The people complained. (Numbers 21:5)
Snakes are hissing around your feet. People are falling, poisoned by the venom. Your hope starts to fade as you know it is only a matter of time before you, too, are bitten. Suddenly, a voice calls out, telling all to fix their eyes on a bronze serpent raised high on a pole. As you force your eyes away from the slithering mass on the ground, you see the serpent and notice that everyone else who has looked at it is being healed.
According to this passage, it all started with complaints about bad food. How could the Israelites complain about something so inconsequential when they had just been rescued from slavery? Now, we probably don't have to deal with actual serpents, but today's first reading is a classic example of how even small complaints can open the door for other little "snakes" that can poison the atmosphere in our homes or workplaces.
We all know what it's like to get caught up in unnecessary complaining. It can happen to the best of us. What starts off as an innocent venting of frustration, if not checked, can turn into impatience or anger. Then, criticism, gossip, or unkindness comes slithering in. Before you know it, we find ourselves in a predicament we don't quite know how to fix, as the Israelites did.
Enter the power of the cross! Just like the serpent in this reading, the cross was a symbol of death. It was one of the cruelest, most humiliating forms of capital punishment. But now through Christ it has been transformed into a symbol of life. Why? Because Jesus willingly embraced the cross out of love for us. Now, even death gives way to its power, and the poisonous bite of sin is overcome.
Today, take a moment to think about what Jesus' sacrifice has meant to you. Think about the victories his cross has won in your life. And whenever you feel tempted to complain, stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and name ten of those victories out loud. Count them on your fingers, and watch the complaints melt away.
"Lord, thank you for the love that you poured out on the cross for me."
Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38
Towards the end of the 5minutos reflection on the centurion that said ""Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.* " (Lk 7:1-10).
"...Lord, Your grace is never abstract or generic: We experience it always in a very concrete manner in the space and time and flows as ordinary in our daily lives. May I recognize you, Lord, while you count on me. Lord, only a heart free of pretenses, prejudice, of rancors and of pride is disposed to receive Your grace. Make me able to receive you Lord, and to appreciate Your surprises: only so will I experience Your love. Lord, what You say to me in the secret of the heart is always a great gift to me, perhaps most precious. Thank you, Lord, for the discretion, for the opportunity and for the abundance with which You give me Your Word."
The people complained. Nowadays, is it any different? "I'm not being fed" says a fallen away catholic. As if to say "I'm tired of this wretched food". Let's say you are experiencing spiritual dryness. Should you give up? Should you complain? Should you...turn away from the Lord? Should I give up the cross? Should I...turn away from the cross? The serpents ran rampant among them, the evils represented by snakes ran among them. The malice of their sin made physical. A physical manifestation of evil. Do you make evil manifest in your life? What comes out of your mouth? Snakes? Are they now running rampant, thanks to that gossip you helped spread? Who is suffering now because of your lack of charity? I used to sell supplemental insurance. I remember one of the lines I learned that made me make a sale was "just because you stop, don't mean the bills are going to stop right?". And then we'd have them sign the dotted line if they wanted it. The same I could say now for the Lord, "just because you stop carrying your cross, doesn't mean evil is going to stop in your life" right? The day the Israelites stopped wanting the food, the manna, the bread from Heaven, the day they got tired of it, that was the day they faced the snakes on their own...without our Father. And once again, the circle of life comes to full circle...we leave God in sin, and we suffer our way back to him. I've noticed, that in my little world, some faithful catholics have been broken apart, only to find His Sacred Heart. Will God have to tear you down to build you up?
The Psalms pray today "Do not forget the works of the Lord", and "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. The day I forget what the Lord has done for me, is the day I stop living. That's the day I'll stop living gratefulness, thankfulness (Eucharist means thankfulness). That's the day I'll stop eating the Manna God is still providing. That's the day I will face the serpent of death all alone. That day, I hope never comes. To have Christ is to have life, like I said in a song I wrote this year "anything else, tastes like death". So long as we "do this in rememberance" then we will be like the centurion who knows we are not worthy, but God's love says we are. The devil says you are not worthy, but God says yes. Yes, I know you goof up. Yes, I know you try. But the massacre must be on our terms, not the devil's. Either you give your life to God, or have it ripped away. There's a national "Office" store that refused to let a woman make copies of a prayer for pro-life. They said "it advocates persecution of those who want an abortion". LOL. The abortion movement is persecuting the Church, the snakes are out there, and the lies continue, flipping the tables saying we are the persecutors. Death lies against life. I have stood in front of abortion clinics, getting cussed at, sneared, given bad signs with fingers, and yelled at, and all I heard on our side of the fence was an offering for the choice of life, pleading, praying on our knees to stop the hideous murder of unborn children.
Let me continue on that note to the Word with our Lord today "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." Hideous I said. The snake in the desert, the bronze snake was lifted up. Last night I followed a ranch hand that was feeding our animals. The sun was about to set, and as I rode a little motor scooter enjoying the ride, I saw a rattle snake on the road. I grabbed a rock to smash it, and I missed, and it fled into the bushes. I was wearing shorts so I didn't go after it. The thought of how these snakes are entering houses out here is horrible. But what's worse? The spritual snakes entering the home, those demons that we let in by not caring. It's horrible and it is gross. Yet, we live with it and suffer with it. When at that point in my life, where we were inside St. Jospeh's Catholic Church, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I was deep in prayer, meditating, singing, immersed into Him, when I saw the body of Christ on the cross. What did I see? Darkness, He was up on the cross not too far from my face, but He was covered in what I could make out as dry blood, all over His head and body, you know how blood clots and scars get dark, as if slithering streams had dried upon Him. That my family, that is what we did to Jesus. But let me take it another step my family. What did my heart feel in those moments? My heart knew that I was looking at my real Father. That's what made it worse. Yes, it's nice to read John 3:16, that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, but look further. That Son, is our Father. That Father is YOUR Father. Would you be so ungrateful as to lay a finger on Him? Would you be so ungrateful as to hurt Him? Would you be so ungrateful as to turn away from Him? The only way to reconcile is in the cross. As I walk to receive Holy Communion (the Eucharist), I walk with reverance, as if binded up...to be slaughtered on the cross. And then I get a taste of it. The cross enters my mouth, and I am saved. "I made it!" Mercy has never tasted better than when I have been broken down and cried in bitter tears of regret and having received forgiveness, whether in confession, or in the ectasy of having His body taken from the cross and given to me. I want that for you. I want you to taste Heaven. I want you to love what is among us, a taste. The cross is a light. The cross is a positive sign. The cross is the sign that God loves us so much. The cross then is asked of us. To love the Father, Our Father THAT MUCH!