"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

God And The Three Sides Of The Cross

Ferdinand Magellan's Cross, Cebu City. I wish to thank the one who captured this photo. In this photo is Superior General of the Society of Jesus Fr Arturo Sosa SJ. With him are the Filipino Jesuits headed by Fr Provincial Jun Viray SJ.

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od-creates-us-by-the-cross: I like what Richard Rohr said about God creating things that create themselves. He says, "Wouldn’t this be the greatest way that God could create—to give autonomy, freedom, and grace to keep self-creating even further? Healthy parents love their children so much that they want them to keep growing to their highest potential, even surpassing their parents. As Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Don’t get too excited about the things that I did. You’re going to do even greater things!’ (Jn 14:12).” But let us not think that Jesus is pertaining to a smooth-sailing ride when he says "You’re going to do even greater things!" Jesus also said that "Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they followed My word, they will follow yours also" (Jn 15:20). We become more of what God wants us to become when we walk with the cross of Jesus. The kingdom of God follows the design of the cross. Jesus says, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock" (cf. Mt 7:24-25). Are the building blocks of your faith firmly founded on the words of Jesus?

During the first mass of Pope Francis after his election as Pope he warned his fellow Cardinals including his own self as regards confessing Christ without the cross. I quote, “When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we confess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.” This is the reason why the good Holy Father continues to do great things for all of us his "flock" because he has always put himself by the cross of Jesus. I put on quotation marks "flock" because it does not pertain only to Catholics but also to all of humanity. In his Encyclical Letters Laudato Si' and Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis always breaks the mold so to speak in order to reach out to all. This is precisely the main characteristic of the cross which breaks every mold so that God's glory will shine all the more.

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od-saves-us-by-the-cross: St Augustine, Bishop of Hippo says, ‘God who created you without you, will not save you without you’ (Sermon 169, 13 [PL 38,923]). God doesn’t want to force Himself upon us because he respects our freedom. "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Ph 2:8). And this is how God saves us: by the cross, which is God's gentle but urgent call to turn our gaze once more to Him. Jesus hinted such a call to the rich young man who asked “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Jesus shows the path of the cross—the path to be Jesus's follower—to the young man but he refused and the Gospel goes on to say "abiit tristis," he went away forlorn (Mk 10:21-22). The mystery of the cross is the length and breadth of the mystery of God's plan of salvation for all. When the cross is removed from the picture our vision becomes myopic and everything loses meaning. Richard Rohr speaks about how many people are now on the verge of losing losing our symbolic universe of meaning. I think it has to do with living one's life avoiding the cross. "The soul can live without answers, but it cannot live without meaning," Rohr explains. But it is not easy to accept sometimes especially when biting off more than you can chew—e.g. an accident or a pandemic such as the COVID-19. We are quick to blame God and say "If God does exist, how could He allow such a terrible thing to happen?" But Jesus never promised that we will have a life without sacrifice which is a life not bound by love but by selfishness and egoism.

The paradox of Christian happiness is contained in the Exultet hymn (ca. 500-700 CE) which is used in the Roman Catholic Easter Eve Vigil liturgy. We hear the Latin words felix culpa which come from the relevant passage, referring to Adam's sin: "O felix culpa, quae talem ac tantum meruit habere Redemptorem!" "O happy guilt which earned for us so great and glorious a Redeemer!" One of the very early Liturgical Prefaces by St Ambrose has expressed this same paradox: “You bent down over our wounds and healed us, giving us a medicine stronger than our afflictions, a mercy greater than our fault. In this way even sin, by virtue of your invincible love, served to elevate us to the divine life” (Sunday XVI per annum).

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od-gives-His-all-by-the-cross: St Pope Leo I has been called Leo the Great because of his invaluable Christological viewpoint during the fourth ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451 CE). He is called the 'Soul of Chalcedon' because of this and, also, we are grateful to his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary—"Conqueror of Heresies"—who helped him correct a heretical viewpoint. Pope Leo's arch-rival, Eutyches, claimed that before Jesus took flesh in Mary there were two "natures," e.g., a divine and a human nature. After the union of the two natures in the womb, only the divine nature remained. Eutyches believed that the divine nature swallowed up the humanity of Jesus, hence, Jesus merely took on human "appearance." Gregory of Nazianzus, Cappadocian father, has the famed adage, "Whatever was not assumed was not healed." For Pope Leo, the denial of the sacred humanity of Jesus was a big threat to everything that Jesus had accomplished for the whole of humanity. Leo understood that if Christ were divine only, then everything about Jesus too would only be divine, (i.e., only Jesus' divinity would have been crucified, buried and resurrected). No other symbol like the cross has succinctly, powerfully and completely communicated both the divinity and humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., All of God.

Today's feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross is a celebration of these three perspectives of the cross. Amen. Fr JM Manzano SJ

Nota Bene: I have a previous article about the lines of the cross here.

John Legend's song "All of Me" could stand as God's message for each of us. Listen to Him.



Comments

  1. Thank you for something to reflect on today...Nice choice of foto inviting to gaze more lovingly and gratefully at the Cross especially on this day...Happy Fiesta! GBU!

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    1. Thanks and happy feast too of the Triumph of the Holy Cross! I wish to thank the one who captured this photo. In this photo are Fr Superior General of the Society of Jesus. With him are the Filipino Jesuits headed by Fr Provincial Jun Viray SJ. GBU!

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    2. I find the song very meaningful and touching. Truly our God gives His all to us...what is our response?
      By His cross...
      God is with us... Be present and embrace our crosses..
      God saves us...Repent, Forgive, Reconcile
      God gives us all...Empty, Receive and Share all.

      Pahabol...Narevise...
      God creates us...Be like Him...Love,Grace and Mercy.

      A fruitful day contemplating the Glorious Cross...All of God. GBU!

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    3. Thank you for your sharing. You are right about the song! I too was amazed when I remembered the lyrics and it fit!

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    4. ;) I am also amaze how you find the latest popular songs connected to your sharing and reflections... Making me see the song in different light...Every time I hear them, it makes me smile and recall the theme...
      Thank you Fr JM! I learned to see things in a different and meaningful way...GBU!

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