September 14, 2014: Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
“…It is thus apparent that the Church cannot fail to make her voice heard concerning the “new things” (res novae) typical of the modern age, because it belongs to her to invite all people to do all they can to bring about an authentic civilization oriented ever more towards integral human development in solidarity. “(3)
“…the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the New Man, who is one with humanity even to the point of “death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). In him it is always possible to recognize the living sign of that measureless and transcendent love of God-with-us, who takes on the infirmities of his people, walks with them, saves them and makes them one. In him and thanks to him, life in society too, despite all its contradictions and ambiguities, can be rediscovered as a place of life and hope, in that it is a sign of grace that is continuously offered to all and because it is an invitation to ever higher and more involved forms of sharing.” (196)
From Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
Exaltation of the Holy Cross
First Reading: Numbers 21:4b-9
Psalm: 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38
Second Reading Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: John 3:13-17
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Sirach 27:30-28:7
Psalm: 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
Second Reading: Romans 14:7-9
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
Catechism of the Catholic Church
“…The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ’s cross…” (550)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
In the present text we can see the importance of moral values, founded on the natural law written on every human conscience; every human conscience is hence obliged to recognize and respect this law. Humanity today seeks greater justice in dealing with the vast phenomenon of globalization; it has a keen concern for ecology and a correct management of public affairs; it senses the need to safeguard national consciences, without losing sight however of the path of law and the awareness of the unity of the human family. The world of work, profoundly changed by the advances of modern technology, reveals extraordinary levels of quality, but unfortunately it must also acknowledge new forms of instability, exploitation and even slavery within the very societies that are considered affluent. In different areas of the planet the level of well-being continues to grow, but there is also a dangerous increase in the numbers of those who are becoming poor, and, for various reasons, the gap between less developed and rich countries is widening. The free market, an economic process with positive aspects, is nonetheless showing its limitations. On the other hand, the preferential love for the poor represents a fundamental choice for the Church, and she proposes it to all people of good will.
It is thus apparent that the Church cannot fail to make her voice heard concerning the “new things” (res novae) typical of the modern age, because it belongs to her to invite all people to do all they can to bring about an authentic civilization oriented ever more towards integral human development in solidarity. (3)
With her social doctrine not only does the Church not stray from her mission but she is rigorously faithful to it. The redemption wrought by Christ and entrusted to the saving mission of the Church is certainly of the supernatural order. This dimension is not a delimitation of salvation but rather an integral expression of it. The supernatural is not to be understood as an entity or a place that begins where the natural ends, but as the raising of the natural to a higher plane. In this way nothing of the created or the human order is foreign to or excluded from the supernatural or theological order of faith and grace, rather it is found within it, taken on and elevated by it. “In Jesus Christ the visible world which God created for man (cf. Gen 1:26-30) — the world that, when sin entered, ‘was subjected to futility’ (Rom 8:20; cf. Rom 8:19-22) — recovers again its original link with the divine source of Wisdom and Love. Indeed, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son’ (Jn 3:16). As this link was broken in the man Adam, so in the Man Christ it was reforged (cf.Rom 5:12-21)”. (64)
The unsurpassed apex of the perspective indicated here is the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the New Man, who is one with humanity even to the point of “death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). In him it is always possible to recognize the living sign of that measureless and transcendent love of God-with-us, who takes on the infirmities of his people, walks with them, saves them and makes them one. In him and thanks to him, life in society too, despite all its contradictions and ambiguities, can be rediscovered as a place of life and hope, in that it is a sign of grace that is continuously offered to all and because it is an invitation to ever higher and more involved forms of sharing.
Jesus of Nazareth makes the connection between solidarity and charity shine brightly before all, illuminating the entire meaning of this connection: “In the light of faith, solidarity seeks to go beyond itself, to take on the specifically Christian dimensions of total gratuity, forgiveness and reconciliation. One’s neighbour is then not only a human being with his or her own rights and a fundamental equality with everyone else, but becomes the living image of God the Father, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and placed under the permanent action of the Holy Spirit. One’s neighbour must therefore be loved, even if an enemy, with the same love with which the Lord loves him or her; and for that person’s sake one must be ready for sacrifice, even the ultimate one: to lay down one’s life for the brethren (cf. 1 Jn 3:16)”. (196)
Today would normally be the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time where we would hear wrath and anger are hateful things, forgive our neighbor’s injustice so when we pray our sins are forgiven, to remember what will be important at our death and overlook faults for the Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger and rich in compassion. We are called to emulate this in our lives, since we do not live for ourselves, but live for the Lord. But in 2014 the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14th, occurs on Sunday. A feast day that takes precedent over regular Sunday liturgical rubrics, for the cross, the instrument of salvation, is the embodiment for avoiding wrath and anger, living with a forgiving heart as we have been forgiven to share the mercy of the Lord. Only when we look to the cross, we do not forget the works of the Lord to realize God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but offer salvation.
Condemn entails censure, to sentence or convict, but Jesus came to offer a gift on the cross. Salvation is freedom to live in the hope of eternal life that manifests in a radiant joyful spirit. To live by the example of Jesus, how can we stop condemning and offer the hope of the cross with the compassion of a forgiving heart, from a freedom not rooted in victory from superiority of competition, but solidified with cooperation? And how does inaction condemn segments of society or creation to demise? For condemnation can be a defined act void of love, but also initiated by inaction of indifference. People are sentenced to a life of poverty when treated like pawns in factors of production, instead of human beings valued at their job. Air pollution, exacerbated by consumption beyond necessity, condemns children to life-long respiratory problems. The homeless are sentenced to another day on the street by inaction to address their challenges. And do we condemn ourselves by saying we have no talents to offer humanity, so we make no effort to get involved and look at life from the sidelines, removed from interaction with those the world condemns? Let the cross free you from the throes of condemnation, to a realization of hope, grounded in forgiveness to share the gift of your belief as witness to the power of the cross by your words and actions.
Individual Reflection: John 3:13-17
As a recipient of God’s love for the world, what is one new way your will use your talents to share that love and minimize condemnation in the world?
Family Reflection: Philippines 2:6-11
Take a special cross in your house, maybe a crucifix hanging on the wall or in a prayer space. Go one line or take the newspaper to look at local issues in your community and discuss how people are condemned. What are some ways your family might raise awareness of the these issues and contribute hope to the community.
God thank you for the gift of salvation through your Son on the cross. Help us to be consumed by the power of the cross, the forgiveness, mercy, hope and love to fuel our actions embedded with compassion and the humbleness of servants. When we see condemnation in the world, percolating from our actions or the acts of other, help us to realize you only desire for us is to manifest the love from the gift of your Son. Help us never to shrink from this path, but continually transform our minds and hearts to courageously live this journey into eternity. We pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen. Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
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By Barb Born September 1, 2014 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.