“If I seek my maker, I find God alone. If I seek the material from which He made me, I find absolutely nothing. From this you can conclude that whatever is in me was made by God and wholly belongs to God. If I ask about my nature, I find that I am the image of God. If I ask about my end, I find God himself, who is my supreme and total good. Therefore, I will recognize that I have a great bond with and need for God, as He alone is my creator, my maker, my Father, my exemplar, my happiness, my all. And If I understand this, what can happen except that I seek Him ardently, that I think of Him, that I yearn for Him, desire to see and embrace Him? Should I not be horrified at the dense darkness of my heart which for so long has considered, desired, and sought anything other than God, who alone is my all?” ~Saint Robert Bellarmine
Monday, September 14, 2015 ~ Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Holy Gospel: John 3:13-17 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.
Meditation: Moses lifted high the image of a bronze serpent fixed to the wood of the pole, which resembled a cross. Those who put their faith in God by repenting of their disobedience were healed and restored to wholeness of life. In today’s Gospel Jesus links his victory on the cross with Moses’ act of deliverance in the wilderness with his own impending sacrificial death when he will be “lifted up” on the wood of the cross at Calvary. Unlike Moses’ deliverance in the wilderness which only resulted in temporary relief for the people, Jesus’ atoning death on the cross brought decisive victory over sin, Satan, and death. Jesus’ victory on the cross cancels the debt of our sin, and releases us from guilt and condemnation. His death and victory brings us new life – the new abundant life in his Holy Spirit which lasts forever. Jesus’ victory on the cross also brought about his glorious bodily resurrection to new unending life and his ascension to the right hand of God the Father in heaven, where he now rules and intercedes for us. The result of Jesus “being lifted up on the cross” and his rising and ascending to the Father’s right hand in heaven is our “new birth in the Spirit” and adoption as sons and daughters of God. God not only has redeemed us from sin in Christ, he also fills us with his own divine life through the gift of his Spirit that we might share in his own glory. Indeed, “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaimed, till all the world adores his sacred name” (Lyrics from the hymn “Lift High the Cross”).
Prayer: O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son should undergo the Cross to save the human race, grant, we pray, that we, who have known his mystery on earth, may merit the grace of his redemption in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: There is no greater proof of God’s love for us then the sending of his Son to become one with us in our humanity and to lay down his life for us — “To ransom a slave God gave his Son.” God sent his Son to free us from the worst of tyrannies — slavery to sin and the curse of death. Jesus’ sacrificial death was an act of total love through self-giving. Jesus gave himself completely out of love for his Father. And he willing laid down his life out of selfless love for our sake and for our salvation. His death on the cross was both a total offering to God and the perfect sacrifice of atonement for our sin and the sin of the world. John tells us that God’s love cannot be limited because it is boundless and encompasses all of creation (John 3:16). His love is not limited to a single nation or a few chosen friends. His love is limitless because it embraces the whole world and every individual created in His image and likeness. God is a persistent loving Father who cannot rest until all of his wandering children have returned home to him. Saint Augustine says, “God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.” God gives us the freedom to choose whom and what we will love and not love. We can love the darkness of sin and unbelief, or we can choose to love the light of God’s truth, goodness, and mercy. If our love is guided by truth, goodness, and that which is truly beautiful, then we will choose for God and love him above all else. What we love shows what we prefer. Ask yourself: Do you love God who is the supreme good above all else, all things, all people?