Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Exaltation of the Cross Reflection

God’s Infinite Love for ALL

A Reflection for the Exaltation of the Cross Feast September 14th

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy

“God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.” (John 3:13-17)

This gospel is a clear reminder to us of exactly how much Almighty God loves ALL His children.

His love is so great that He was willing to send his beloved son, Jesus Christ, to earth in human form to be subjected to all the difficulties and pressures of being human even to the ultimate indignity of being persecuted, tortured and crucified. It was by Christ’s Crucifixion, death and resurrection that we were redeemed and our sins forgiven and the gates of heaven were opened to ALL who lived their lives in accord to the teachings of Christ.

The Church places very high regard to the sign of the cross recognizing the powerful significance of Christ’s crucifixion and the results it achieved for the human race. As Christians we begin prayer by making the sign of the cross on our bodies, we offer the following prayer when we celebrate the passion of Christ in the Stations of the cross “We adore you O Christ and we bless you. All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world”

The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is one of the twelve great feasts in the yearly Church cycle. It commemorates two historical events: first, the finding of the Life-giving Cross in the year 326 by St. Helen the mother of the Emperor Constantine, and second, its recovery from Persia in 628.

As adults, we sometimes feel abandoned and afraid and feel like we are being treated unfairly or blamed for things unfairly. We have a hard time when people criticize us for following our inner feelings even when we have discerned what we are feeling to determine if it is in accord with God’s will.

As adults the same feelings of insecurity that we sometimes felt as children raises its ugly head and we feel that everything we do is not appreciated.

There are also those times when we believe that we have taken on more responsibility or a project that we are not capable of or possibly is not actually God’s will.

We often feel sorry for ourselves; even though the crosses others have to carry are much greater than anything we have to contend with.

Even Jesus, who was fully aware of what was in store for Him pleaded with His father “"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."(Matthew 26:39)

In all these insecure feelings we must always pray to God in the same way that Jesus did by asking our heavenly Father to grant to us that which is in accord with His will and not what we think we desire.

That is what I am now doing regarding the future of this ministry as I struggle to maintain it.

God’s infinite love for us will NEVER give us more than we are capable of enduring and, often, God has caused those He loves greatly, like His son, to endure greater suffering because God knows that our faith in Him is strong and we will be like Job, keeping our faith in spite of our difficulties.

In today’s world so many individuals and religious organizations reject and discriminate against others because they are not exactly like them. God did not create only one species or one kind of person.

God created great diversity and because of His creation we have much to be thankful for because if all people, animals and countries were the same boredom would certainly have overtaken this world many millennium ago.

Christ was sent to us as an act of God’s love to make known God’s will and the way to salvation.

One of the basic teachings of Christ is compassion for the downtrodden, poor and marginalized.

I believe that to be a true Christian means that those who have been given wealth, fame and power have an obligation to take care of those who are in need. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48)

Just as Christ set aside His human instincts to remain alive and not suffer the agony of the passion and death on a cross in order to attain salvation for ALL God’s children so too must we set aside our self-interests and make our decisions based on what will benefit the greatest number of people especially those who are suffering because of age, poverty, war, discrimination and illness.

Doing this we can be assured that we are truly living in accord with God’s will and as Jesus tells us in John 17:26 ; “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." (John 17:26)

We are assured that God’s love for us is as great as the love God had for His son and that we are living as God desires us to live and that God is with us even in our darkest hours. AMEN

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