Saturday, July 3, 2010

14th Sunday in OrdTime. "Never boast except in the Cross": Only in the holy Cross do we find blessing

"I bear the marks of Jesus on my body."

What are the "marks" of Jesus? The marks of Jesus are the holes made by the nails in His sacred hands and feet, and the wound in His side made by the soldier's lance. His bodily suffering and death on the wood of the cross have forever sanctified as a sign of Divine Love the crossed beams of wood which once signaled only violence and ignominious execution.

Thus the holy sign of Jesus reigning from the wood of His Cross is now mankind's source of hope: "Ave Crux, spes unica". Saint Paul proclaims, "Never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ". Honor the Lord offering Himself for your sake on His Cross, give glory to Him that you may be filled with lasting joy.

To boast in the Lord is to put trust in Him because of His saving death on the Cross. We "bear the marks of Jesus" on our bodies through the graces of our baptism recalled through the making of the "sign of the cross" by touching with our hand our forehead, shoulders and breast. We act in the faith of our baptism and bless ourselves with holy water in the sign of His holy Cross with the invocation the Blessed Trinity.

"Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father "with every spiritual blessing." This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ."
-- CCC 1671

Envy seeks glory for the self, measuring our value as persons by seeking to have or do more than others. Our value is based upon who we are: persons made in the image and likeness of God and recreated in Christ through the grace of baptism won by his glorious cross.

"Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity; the baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility:

"Would you like to see God glorified by you? Then rejoice in your brother's progress and you will immediately give glory to God. Because his servant could conquer envy by rejoicing in the merits of others, God will be praised"
-- CCC 2540

Envy arises from the idolatry of materialism which places a higher value upon things than upon God or others. Humility, on the other hand, combats envy and covetousness by recognizing that God comes first on our lives and all other things are ordered according to His will and plane: "Seek first the kingdom of God an all other things will be added unto you." It is lived by servanthood, seeking the progress of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are poor.

To uplift and help our neighbor, to do what is best for others, is to direct them also to follow the Lord, to point the way to Him as did John the Baptist and all true prophets: "Behold the Lamb of God".

Would you be happy? At peace? Do you desire the ability to serenely greet the changes, surprises, disappointments in life, as well as the blessings? Then boast in the Cross, put the highest value through faith in Him who is the only One who has the power to save and to raise up in Himself all that is good. "When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men to myself" our Lord said of Himself and of His redeeming death on the cross.
Isaiah reminds us that all good comes from God, and if we would share in blessing than we must go to Him for it:

"Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms,
and fondled in her lap;
as a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.

"When you see this, your heart shall rejoice
and your bodies flourish like the grass;
the LORD's power shall be known to his servants."

When the Cross is "lifted up" here in this church, placed in a position of honor particularly during the celebration of holy Mass, and in our homes, then we are those "servants" who know God's power. All creation thus continues to be drawn to Christ and into His continuing work of redeeming the world. All that is good, all that is holy, will be renewed and restored in Him.

And when we begin and end our prayers with the sign of His holy Cross, we "boast" in that cross, giving the glory to God. Let us make the sign of the Cross always with love and devotion, with attention, as we touch our forehead, shoulders and chest, thinking with love upon Jesus, and remembering that through our saving baptism and the grace of Eucharistic life in the blood flowing from the pierced Body of the Lord upon the Cross, we "bear the marks of Jesus" in our bodies.

Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

-- ((((..))))

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