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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Boasting in the Cross?

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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.
Last week we talked about making sacrifices for following Christ. When we choose Him, we say no to certain things. Indeed, when Elisha burned his 12 oxen with their own yoke, he was burning the bridge to his past life. He said “never again” to his old life, and Christ demands the same for us.
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.
No one proclaimed the Gospel more boldly than the apostles, and perhaps Peter and Paul, whose feast day we just celebrated, were the most outspoken. Every one of the 12, except for John the Beloved, were martyred for their witness to Christ. Saints Peter and Paul died in Rome, the city of the Pope throughout the centuries. Saint Paul's words today were very true in his own life: 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. Paul definitely lived these words, but I feel like for us it is difficult to grasp what it actually means.
Did you know that in the early church, the Christians never used the symbol of the Cross to symbolize their faith? It is not because they were ashamed of the Cross, but because it was such a horrific image. The only equivalent I can see in our own times would be something like the electric chair or the stocks or the guillotine or the gallows. You see, like them, the cross was a tool with one special purpose: public execution and humiliation. For Paul to say I boast in the Cross of Christ, was, and should be, a bit shocking for us.
But what the Cross has done for Paul is what makes it all make sense: through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
So what does it mean to be crucified to the world? Well, we have to understand what “the world” means. Think of it as the web of sin and evil that has grown up around us, like when we say “welcome to the real world” or “those are the ways of the world,” which are rarely consoling or complimentary. God so loved the world, that was created good and still is except for our history of sinfulness, that Christ was crucified for it. To be crucified to the world means to be transfixed with Jesus on the Cross and love what He loves there, and hate what he hates. We hate sin. We hate separation from God and from each other. We hate that innocent people are trampled on and that children aren't loved. We love justice and mercy. We love the weakest because of who they are and not what they can or cannot offer to society – their life and their love is enough. We love the Father's Will, no matter the cost, because we love union with Him forever in heaven.
That is what it means to be crucified to the world and the world to you.
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.

Paul rejoices that the world is crucified to him and he to the world. So too can we, if we have made the decision to follow Christ completely, if we let Him lead us in life. When we give over everything to God, he consoles us like a mother nursing her child, as Isaiah reminds us. Then it is no longer a fearful thing to proclaim Christ to the world, to boast in the Cross of Christ, because you know Him who has delivered you and carries you and leads you and walks beside you all your days. That is how Paul could daily face death for years and never lose a wink of sleep. He was resting daily in the comforting arms of the Lord. Ask Jesus to help you to be united to Him on the Cross that you may be consoled by His presence in this Mass, that you may be fed by His Body and Blood in this Eucharist.

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