John 3:13-17 Lift High The Cross And Fall In Love
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). What remarkable words. What a remarkable feat! St. Paul does not boast except in one thing: that he has become dead to the world and the world to him. No wonder why it took centuries for Christianity to spread throughout the world. To become dead to the world is like becoming dead to home. But the world became too small for St. Paul as it did for his Master, where there was no room for him in the world. How did St. Paul arrive to shaking the sand of the world off his feet?
“Imitate me for I Imitate the Lord” (1Cor 11:1)
St. Paul traveled because the Lord traveled. The Apostle met people in the half-way of their lives because the Lord met them half way, between confession and conversion, sinner and saint, fullness of the faith and cafeteria-style Christians. The Lord plans to introduce himself and the cross to each and every one of us, either with a bouquet of flowers or a crown of thorns. Be prepared for you do not know the hour when the Lord will come to greet you! Do not cast away the Lord! “Do not forget the works of the Lord!” (Ps 78:7b) The wrath of God is Hell! But his mercy will bend the most stubborn of knees and cleanse the filthiest of tongues. The Lord’s mercy endures forever! St. Paul’s Gospel is the Gospel of hope. He brought hope to the children of a lesser god. His message was well received because he lived the message. To die to the world does not mean to not love the world; it means to place the world at your feet. Christ did not hate the world, he loved it. He loved his own. He loved his enemies. He loved. Sin is a reduction, a filtering of pure love. It becomes visible in the sign of the Cross. Just today we read in the newspapers how a baby was found aboard an airplane and left in the bathroom trash can. Baby and trash can; Christ and Cross. Can anything be more contradictory than that? St. Paul did not boast in his own crosses or in his own works. He boasted in the cross of our Lord, and the Cross that Christ carried is the loss of innocence in the world: To take what is good and turn it into evil.
Obedience to the Lord unto death
Christ became obedient to death, even death on a cross. To die to oneself means to avoid sinning, this means to love unconditionally. Recently, I heard from a couple I had counseled a few years back about the use of NFP. This is the message they sent me. I think it is fitting for today’s feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
We're writing you this morning to say hello after several years, but also to send along our prayers. In the Fall of 2005…you gave us a few pre-marital talks as we prepared for our wedding. We have always looked back fondly on the help you gave us that Fall, and on your great preaching in the school chapel. We especially like to remember your advice about how to think through the prudential considerations that go along with NFP and openness to children: I asked you once, "Father, what do we need to take into account with NFP? How do we know when it's right to avoid pregnancy?" My wife had been feeling some anxiety about this, looking ahead to our married life. You answered, "You know, I think you should just pray, have a baby, and see what happens. God will take care of it. I mean, people have been having babies for centuries, in caves, in famines--and this is America! You'll be fine." Looking back on this, we realize we had a different kind of marriage prep than most couples get these days! And here we are, five years later, with 3 sons to show for it. Deo gratias.
They sent me a beautiful picture of their 3 sons. Deo Gratias!
Today we exalt in the Holy Cross of Christ! That love can never be reduced because of personal needs or fears. Thank you Lord for giving us a deeper understanding of the heights, depths and widths of love – unfiltered love in the sign of the Cross.