Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 14, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

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.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus in this passage from the gospel makes reference to the narrative in Numbers 21:4-9. In that passage, the Israelites who have been stricken through the bites of serpents look upon a bronze serpent raised up on a post; through their gaze upon the image of the serpent, they are healed. In the same way as the bronze serpent, Jesus is lifted up on the cross. And we, stricken by the bites that are just the ordinary course of life, who look upon our Lord lifted on that cross are healed through our gaze upon the one fastened to its beams.

Saint of the day: The Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross traces its roots to c. 326 AD when the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, journeyed to Jerusalem to look for the real cross. An old Jew named Judah told her that the Cross was buried under the Temple of Venus that Hadrian had built on Golgatha. Helena ordered that the Temple of Venus be torn down and the ground under it excavated. Having done that, they found three crosses. John Chrysostom (4th Century) in Homily LXXXV on John 19 stated that they suspected which cross was the real one: first from its lying in the middle (John 19:18), and second from the title written by Pilate (John 19:19).

But they still needed to dispel all uncertainty as to which, if any, was the real one. At that moment a funeral procession was passing by; Patriarch Macarius of Jerusalem suggested that they place the crosses one by one on the dead man. When they placed the first two on him, nothing happened. When they placed the third on him, he was restored to life. After that, they placed it on a sick woman and she recovered. Patriarch Macarius then raised up the cross for everyone to see and all the people sang, “Lord have mercy” with tears and joy. Empress Helena then had a silver casing made to contain the Cross.

In the early 7th Century, the Persians conquered Jerusalem and carried off the Cross to Persia. Fourteen years later, the Greek Emperor Heraclius conquered Persia and brought the Cross back to Jerusalem and placed it in the Church of the Resurrection on Golgatha. September 14th, then, celebrates both the occasion of the finding of Christ1A2the Cross by Helena, and its return by Heraclius. The Eastern Church began celebrating the Exaltation of the Cross in the 4th Century. The Western Church eventually did so also after the 7th Century.

The Exaltation of the Cross is a feast day that is not celebrated much in the West today, however. Some Western Churches celebrate Holy Cross Sunday in mid September using the Gospel lesson for the Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross and the Epistle for the feast day of the Exaltation. But this is not commonly done. Lutherans sometimes use the Epistle lesson for the Sunday after the Exaltation for Reformation Sunday in November. In both cases, the ideas are expressed that the Cross has become more than just a piece of wood that the Lord died on. However, the Word of the Cross is not emphasized in either case as it is in the Eastern Church. In the West, both Holy Cross Sunday and Reformation Sunday are one day events. In the East, the celebration of the Exaltation of the Cross takes in two Sundays (before and after) with a major feast day in between. In addition to the above, taking up one’s cross is also the theme of the 3rd Sunday in Lent (The Adoration of the Cross) and All Saints Sunday (the 1st Sunday after Pentecost.)

Spiritual reading: The study of the cross reveals horizons so clear that they are lost in infinity. (Rafael Arnaiz Baron)

One Response

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  1. Ben Yamin said, on September 14, 2011 at 5:59 am

    I like this post because it helps me to prepare for the sermons.

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