Holy Mass for Pilgrimage of the Icon of IEC, Cebu in the Diocese of Balanga
Thursday, 16 April 2015
CROSS OF CHRIST JESUS
Jesus lived His life under the shadow of the cross. With the cross, Jesus leads us to a life of grace. He gives back to us our eternal life. The Catechism of the Universal Church affirms, “by His glorious cross, Christ has won salvation for all men” (1741). Through the cross, we can discern how much Jesus loves us. The cross shows how much Jesus is willing to give, to offer in order to redeem us. The cross summarizes the teachings of Jesus, that is, He came for the atonement of man from sin and death. Truly Jesus came and “humbled himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross” (Philippians 2, 8).
The cross of Jesus is our hope. Once as an instrument of torture and death, the cross of Jesus is now a proof of God’s power over the power of death and Satan. The cross becomes our redemption. The cross is our salvation and source of strength. Thus it is our hope amidst our suffering, our power against temptations. Saint Paul in his letter to the Galatians tells us “for me, I do not wish to take prides in anything except in the cross of Christ Jesus our Lord. Through him the world has been crucified and I to the world” (6, 14).
The way to Jesus is the way of the cross. To follow Jesus is to carry and to embrace His cross. The invitation of Jesus is this “if you wish to be a follower of mine, deny yourself and take up your cross each day, and follow me” (Luke 9,23). To be identified with Jesus is to be crucified with Him. The cross is our identification with Jesus.
What could possibly be our daily crosses? These could be uncharitable criticisms in spite of doing good things or receiving uninspiring results from our works in spite of giving our best. Indifferences from those whom we have served and help or lack of support from those who dear and near to our hearts could be our daily crosses. Ingratitude from our friends or painful illness or permanent disability could be considered also as forms of our daily crosses. Also daily crosses could be uncooperativeness of our leaders, demanding superiors or endless tasks. Now reflecting deeper how Jesus carry and embrace His own cross should make us realize that our daily crosses are nothing compare to His cross. Meditating fully how Jesus accepted the will of the Father and allowed Himself to be crucified on the cross should lead us to persevere, to be patient, and to participate in His redeeming actions of Jesus. Our daily crosses should make us aware that we are sharing in His sufferings. We are one with Him. The cross makes us united with Jesus. The cross binds us to Him and to His people. The cross of Jesus is teaching us not to be embittered, not to be frustrated, not to be discouraged in spite of our daily crosses.
As we carry and accept our daily crosses, whatever they are, we come to know these three basic truths. ONE. The cross is not a burden but a blessing. The cross tells us that we are not alone in our suffering, in our predicament. There is Jesus who experienced what we are undergoing. There is Jesus who sympathizes with us. Jesus is there to strengthen us. The cross makes us bear all our sufferings, our pains, and our difficulties with love and with hope. Thus the cross sanctifies us. The cross becomes our solution, our blessing. The cross is bonding us to God. So instead of being resentful, or being discouraged, and being frustrated we can see God’s ways of forming us through our daily crosses or assisting us to be the particular person and priest He wants us to be. And so the cross is not a burden but a blessing.
TWO. The cross is not a scandal but a salvation. Though the cross is an instrument of cruelty and violence, our daily crosses do not project us weak, defeated or loss. They are our anchors to God, moving us closer to Him. Though the cross portrays pain and agony, our daily crosses shows God’s power. Our daily crosses empower us to cling to God and call on Him. Accepting it is Him who can help and heal us. Our daily crosses make our will, our words, and our ways conform to God’s ways and will. With our daily crosses, we surrender everything to God. And God is there to sustain us. Though we find our works disappointing, or our prayers dry, or our condition depressing, the cross of Jesus makes to hold on Him. The cross leads us to Jesus. Jesus shares our lot. He suffered for us. In His suffering, He saved us. Thus, the cross is not a scandal but our salvation. THREE. The cross is not a pain but power. The cross makes us cry. But our daily crosses make us lift our hearts to God. The cross hurts us. But also our daily crosses will help us grow in holiness as we learn to be more faithful, more dependent, and more dedicated to God. Imitating the attitudes of Jesus towards His own cross and doing what He did on the cross, carrying and accepting our daily crosses turn us to be more merciful, more compassionate, and more understanding towards our brothers who are in need and in dire sufferings. Thus the cross is no longer a pain but a power. It is our power to forgive, to love and to save others as what Jesus shown and did while He was on the cross. Our daily crosses make us conquer our pride, our mistakes. Our daily crosses turn us to be victorious over our sins, selfishness and our shortcomings.
Indeed as we have the pilgrimage cross which was implanted in our lands by Ferdinand Magellan let the cross of Christ take its roots in our heart. As we look up to our cross rising high on Mount Samat let us focus our sight and our life to God.
+Ruperto Cruz Santos, DD
Bishop of Balanga and CBCP Episcopal Chairman
for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People