Friday, June 18, 2010

In the Sign of the Cross

Reflections on the Readings

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time - June 20, 2010, Year C

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

By Dennis S. Hankins

Readings For This Sunday

In the Sign of the Cross

"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." - Jesus

It's not a message easily embraced.  The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.  It just doesn't make sense to them.  

What's that again, "Lose your life for my sake, and you will save it?"  

"Jesus said what?"    

Jesus said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

Sacrifice.  This is an important word in understanding our life in Christ.  It sums up very much everything Jesus is about.  Why?  Because the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for you and me.  His life for ours.  Say that out loud: His life for mine, for yours, for my family and my neighbors.  For our sake Jesus became sin, even though he knew no sin, that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

Sacrifice.  Its a word that defines our life in Christ. It sums up very much what it means to be a Christian.  Christianity is about a cross.  A cross we are called to carry.  Daily.  Until we exchange it one day for a crown.  If we are true followers of Christ, we will like St. Paul, glory in nothing else but the cross.  So much of our witness is emptied of its power because we refuse the power of the cross.  We are powerless until we take up our cross and follow Jesus.  There's no other way to follow him.

I grew up listening to great sermons on the cross.  And I've never heard a sermon on a Christ-less Cross.  Never.  Every sermon on the cross that I have ever heard included Jesus.  Jesus who hung on it, bled his life's blood down it, breathed his last breath from it.  

A crucifix reminds us of these things.  It is these things our daily cross is about.  The servant is not greater than his master.  If we love this world and the gain we get in it rather than Jesus, we've emptied the cross of its power.  However, if we empty ourselves on that cross, in serving our brothers and sisters in the pews or in the streets, we'll have influence with man and God.

Sacrifice.  Its a word describing the presence of the Church in the world as a place of sacrificial prayer.  The crucifix above the altar reminds the Church to pray for the world; her petitions for the world rising to heaven as she lifts up her heart as a living sacrifice.  The culmination of her prayers comes as the Church eats the bread and drinks from the cup; the body and blood of Jesus.  What we eat and drink is not just for ourselves, but for the life of the world. In the Eucharist the Church renews herself and prays for the world.  

Let us lose our life for Jesus' sake and for the sake of the world he came to save. Everyday let us greet the world in the sign of the cross.

In the name of the +Father, and of the +Son, and of the +Holy Spirit.  Amen.


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