Friday, September 12, 2014

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (A) – Look at the Cross and be Healed

SEPTEMBER 14, 2014
Nm 21:4b-9; Ps 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38; 2 Phil 2:6-11; Jn 3:13-17

Look at the Cross and be Healed

The Cross is part of our everyday life. We use it in our prayer and liturgy, in our homes, in our clothes, and even in our non-religious actions. Some of our drivers would touch the cross hanging from the mirror before leaving. I used to have a batchmate who had the habit of making the sign of the cross before shooting the ball in the game. And even Manny Paquiao himself (during his golden years) would make the sign of the cross when he
is inside the ring!

But the cross has not always been that popular. It used to be infamous for being used as a punishment for criminals. This is the reason why the Lord asks Moses in the 1st reading to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole. The serpent is a treacherous animal that tempted Adam and Eve. It is also the same animal that punished the nagging Israelites by biting and killing them in the 1st reading.

But Moses did not mount a true serpent on the pole. He just used a copy—a bronze image of a serpent. Unconsciously, Moses was foreshadowing the crucifixion of our Lord. To borrow the expression of Paul in our 2nd reading: Jesus is the Holy and Innocent God who humbled Himself and took the form of a slave—a criminal at that. Just like the bronze image of serpent which is not really a serpent, He was not a criminal but just appeared as criminal to the public.

What is good about the image of the Christ as a criminal on the cross is that Christ embraces everything—all of our sins and weaknesses and turns them into something new and good. This sheds light on the mysteries of life as expressed in today’s psalm. And this is also what makes our Bible unique. Just like the Quran of the Muslims, the Vedas and Upanishads of the Hindus, the Bible also has its own stories of violence which can be found in the Old Testament. But unlike the holy books of the other religions, the bible alone sheds meaning on its stories of violence in the light of the New Testament, in the light of the cross. The Cross shows us that God is against sin and violence because He Himself pays for it in His suffering. But at the same time, He also uses the cross to make us children of God.

And just like the rebellious Israelites in the 1st reading, many of us who are now experiencing some problems could blame no one but ourselves. The biting of serpents represents our constant struggle in this world. Some of us may not have enough money and that is because we are not working. Some of us may not be excelling in our studies and that is because we waste much of our time on less important things like computer games. Some of us feel unattractive and that is because of our vices and lack of discipline. But just like the wounded Israelites in the desert, let us repent of our sins, look at our Lord Jesus on cross, ask for His forgiveness and be healed... because the cross triumphs over our sin and failures.

Cycle A, Feast, OP Friars, Holy Cross, Challenges, Healing

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