Saturday, September 15, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, September 16, 2012

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to
save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake,
and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them
to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?

From the Gospel called Mark, chapter 8
[ Gospel reading for Sunday, Sept 16th, Proper 19, Year B RCL {Revised Common Lectionary} ]

September 14th was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is the titular feast of the religious Order of which I was a member for 15 years. When I was a parish priest, I used to “keep” it on the following Sunday, so that all our parishioners would have a chance to enter into and to ponder the Mystery of the Cross. The Feast of the Exaltation is in honour of the “holy cross” itself … celebrating the critical part that the cross on which Jesus is crucified plays as the instrument by which Jesus can make His gift of Love to the whole of God’s Creation. In a hymn written by Venantius Honorius Fortunatus (530-609), the cross is implored to let go of its normal rigidity in order to embrace and support the Christ so that He can make His offering.

I understand the Holy Cross as a metaphor for all of Creation. The theological principle undergirding the Mystery is that what we call Divine Compassion/Love is the core reality of Existence. It is what gives Life to all Being. I think of the scientific Big Bang as a metaphor for the pent-up power of Divine Compassion waiting to explode and create the Universe … and the Cross as a metaphor of every single atom of Existence becoming a vehicle of that life-giving power of Life. Everything must play its part in the unleashing of Divine Compassion bringing Life to life.

That means you and me. In our great Christian Myth, Jesus calls all who would follow the path of Love to “take up the cross”. He means, Choose to be an instrument by which Divine Compassion can be given birth … “die” to all that is not Love in you, and you will receive Life, overflowing. This kind of Life can’t be had by holding onto old understandings of what makes Life authentic (“saving your life”); it can only be had by giving over one’s Life to the Way of Compassion (“losing one’s life”). Dying to Live is the great paradox of the Gospel … and of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

“What the World needs now / is Love Sweet Love” says the song.

It does. And it always will.


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