Saturday, September 13, 2014

Be Lifted Up

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses, “Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.” Numbers 21:8

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2:6-8

“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.”  John 3:13-14

Piety is our imitation of Christ.  He emptied himself out of being God to truly become human.  He always would have two natures even as he was one person.  Piety is our hearts acceptance of the challenge to be just like Christ in the ways we give our freedom back to God.  God loves us so much that he makes us free to be ourselves.  He gives us forgiveness for all the times we are selfish.  He forgives us when we are trapped within ourselves and he is a prisoner of our hearts.  In Baptism he came to us; our piety is how we let Christ out of the prison of our heart’s selfishness.  Our piety is seen in all the ways we are unselfish in accepting the challenge of Christ to empty ourselves of many of the things we have a right to that we might be more like Christ.  Our piety is our expression of oneness with Christ in how we live our lives for the sake of each other.  Wherever there is love God is there.  Our love for God shows itself in our piety.  Our piety is the sharing of what we have with the needy of our lives.  What we do for the least one in our lives Christ considers as done for him.

Philippians 2:6-11 begins with the Challenge of Paul that we have within us the same mind that was in Christ Jesus, our Lord.  Jesus did not hold onto the Godness of his personhood in his willingness to be human and one of us.  God did not send Jesus to condemn us.  He sent him that we might be saved by his holy cross.  The cross was portrayed in the Old Testament by the serpent that was raised up on a staff to be looked at by those bitten by the serpent.  Even as those in the Old Testament were cured of their poisonous bites by looking at the serpent on the staff, the poisonous bites of our sins are cured as we look with the eyes of our soul at Christ dying for us with the wounds of our sins.  It is how we accept his forgiveness that is the completion of his work in us.

We honor the feast of the Holy Cross by our willingness to join our sufferings to Christ’s sufferings by offering up our sufferings for the sake of the sinfulness of our world.  The difficulties and the problems of our life take on a special efficacy when we offer them for others.  We prevent our suffering from being constipated when we offer them up for others. It is almost as if our sufferings do not exist when we offer their value for those we love and serve by our lives.  The cross is so much more than a symbol.  It will be our claim to fame in heaven when we have made the divine connection by joining our sufferings with Christ’s. It is then the cross of Christ is truly exalted in our lives.

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