Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 14, 2013

9d73c30bbcb17325cdf7057f31ad92bb_w600Gospel 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. They are healed through gazing on the serpent. In a much more radical way, Jesus, too, is lifted up so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. And this life comes because Jesus’ giving of his life on the Cross is a sign of his Father’s love for each and every one of us.

Saint of the day: The Cross is one of the most central objects of the Christian faith. It is the symbol of God’s love for us expressed by the self-sacrificing death of Jesus, his Incarnate Son. The public veneration of the Cross originated in the fourth century. According to legend it began with the miraculous discovery of the True Cross by Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, on September 14, 326 while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. The church was dedicated nine years later, with a portion of the cross placed inside it in 335. This was a two-day festival. Although the actual consecration of the church was on September 13, the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could come forward to venerate it.

c4d14128441ef6938aae364bf6890d4c_w600In the year 627, during the reign of the Emperor Heraclius I of Constantinople, the Persians conquered the city of Jerusalem and removed a major part of the Cross from its sanctuary. The emperor determined to recover the relic which he regarded as the new Ark of the Covenant for the new People of God. Before leaving Constantinople with his army, Heraclius went to the church wearing black in a spirit of penance; prostrated himself before the altar and begged God to sustain his courage. In the ensuing war, the emperor was victorious. One of the conditions of a peace treaty was the return of the Cross, in the same condition as when it was removed. On his return to Constantinople Heraclius was received by the acclamations of the people. They came out to meet him with olive branches and torches. The Cross was honored with a grand triumph.

The emperor then wished to give thanks to God by going in person to return the Cross to Jerusalem, after an absence of 14 years. In Jerusalem, he wished to carry the Cross on his shoulders but on reaching the gate leading to Calvary, he could not go forward. He was astonished and his retinue could not understand. “Take care, O Emperor!” the Patriarch Zachary then said to him. “In truth, the imperial clothing you are wearing does not sufficiently resemble the poor and humiliated condition of Jesus carrying His cross.” Heraclius then removed his shoes and bejewelled robes. Wearing a poor man’s tunic, he was able to proceed to Calvary and replace the Cross. It is said the occasion was marked by a number of miracles: a dead man returning to life, four paralytics cured, ten lepers healed, 15 blind men given their sight, several possessed people exorcised and many sick people totally healed.

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


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