Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Psalm for Sunday, September 14, 2014

Reflections (by J Kim)        

"Do not forget the works of the Lord!"

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
draws on Psalm 78, a passage that recounts 
the rebellious nature of the people of Israel.   
The Psalmist describes their forgetfulness, 
disobedience, ungratefulness, and insincere 
praise of God.  As we read such descriptions, 
we must soberly recognize our own shortcomings 
and look up to the Holy Cross to deliver us from sin. 

Beginning with Verse 34, "While he slew them 
they sought him and inquired after God again," 
we are linked to the first reading.  Numbers 21 
describes God's use of venomous snakes to punish 
the people for their unbelief and complaining.  In their 
suffering, the people turn to Moses and the Lord for help; 
Moses is instructed to make a bronze snake and put it up 
on a pole for all to see.  The people looked up, believed,
and were healed.  In the Gospel of John, the image
is brought to its full meaning:  as the Israelites were 
healed by obeying God's command to look up at the 
elevated bronze serpent, believers today can be saved
by looking up to Jesus and his death on the cross.

Unfortunately, the next verses of the Psalm detail 
the fickle nature of the Israelites.   Over and over, 
they would claim to follow God for a while and then 
turn away from him.  "But they flattered him with their 
mouths and lied to him with their tongues, though their 
hearts were not steadfast toward him, nor were they 
faithful to his covenant."  (v. 36-37).  They followed God 
with their words and not with their hearts.  

An omniscient and all-powerful God would have every 
right to be angered.  Does our Lord choose to punish
His children?  The most tender, comforting, and 
awe-inspiring answer is found in v. 38:  "But he, being
merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not; '
Often he turned back his anger and let none of his wrath 
be roused."  God shows mercy on the Israelites; as many 
times as they rebel, He offers love and guidance, 
sometimes, firmly.  He is the same with us today, 
exhibiting perfect patience.  We must not "forget the 
works of the Lord," but remember to seek Him and 
exalt the cross at all times, not just in seasons of dire need. 


Discussion Questions for Reflection

1.  Just like the Israelites, when have you been guilty of forgetfulness,
thanklessness, or rebellion?  What has been God's response?

2.  How do you "Exalt the Cross" in your daily life?  Or... perhaps, 
do you need to raise Him up higher for yourself and others to see?


  1. Rudy H8:08 PM

    Let us Exalt the Cross Today

    "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (St. Paul)

    We bow down before the cross of our Lord at this joyous feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross because of what Christ accomplished on this wood. The victory has been won. We have been healed from the sinful affliction of the soul. Death has been swallowed up in this victory. What was killed on the Cross was not so much Christ as it was death itself for Life could not be killed. Death was the result of the sinful condition. "For the wages of sin is death" as St. Paul reminds us. What is so joyous about this feast is that we remember and enter into the salvation that Christ has offered unto us.

    It is through our own taking up the Cross that we become co-sufferers with Christ. What the evil one means for harm becomes transformed into that very place where death and sin are destroyed. This is why "the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing." Then the Cross makes no sense. Why, if God wanted to manifest His power, why would He not deliver Christ from having to endure the scourging and torturous death on the Cross. The power of God was made more manifest through the death of Christ on that Tree of Life. For, through it, death has been killed. Mankind has been set free from sin and death.

  2. The Cross is a mystery to us believers -- what was a horrible crucifixion became for us a source of healing and salvation. The message is simple ... lift up your eyes to the Cross and be saved. Just as the Israelites were saved by the mercy of the Lord, so too are we rescued by His grace and His kindness.

    But there is more ... just as we are healed by the suffering of Jesus on that tree, so too are we called to share in His pain and suffering. Are we prepared to climb that holy mountain and get up on that Cross with our Savior?

    Scriptures are rich with the meaning of imitating Christ and sharing in His suffering. St Paul speaks of the thorn in his flesh and says the Lord spoke to him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." St Paul affirms, "When I am weak then I am strong." (Corinthians 12: 9-10)

    People often speak of carrying our own cross, that we all have a cross to bear ... For us Christians, suffering is a way of obtaining grace and participating in salvation.

    For St Paul, participating in the Passion and death of Christ is to be crucified with Christ, united to Christ through the Cross. Dying with Christ gives way to life. St Paul affirms, "I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." (Galations 6: 17)

  3. We live in a generation that is disloyal and faithless by being rebellious against God, like the Israelites. How does God treat us? He sent His only begotten son to this world to save us by putting the Son on the Cross. The wages of our sins were paid by Jesus Christ. The Cross is the victory because Jesus conquered death for us. With His Mercy He sets us free. He won the Salvation over death for us - we gain Eternal Life.

    But that is not enough. God wants us to pick up our personal cross in communion with Jesus. In that way we become a true disciple of Christ. Without tasting of His suffering, I can not be transformed into the image of Christ.

    I have to look up to the Cross by not only believing in Him but with the faith of a true heart. I can not please God with only lip service. God draws me nearer to Him by allowing me to go through suffering and affliction.