Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Catholic Defender: The Cross of Christ

"Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, 'God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you'. He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do'. Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct" (Matthew 16-21-27).

This is a most important scriptural text coming from Our Lord. At Christmas time it seems that many attempt to remove Christ from Christmas.

I've seen "X-Mas" which means nothing to me. It is Christmas! Similarly, many want to detach Jesus from his cross.

St. Peter wanted to avoid the cross. Jesus told St.Peter, "Get behind me Satan" because Jesus knew this was his divine mission.

To go to the cross. More than that, Jesus calls for us to pick up our cross and follow him. Suffering is a part of life and we must endure our cross patiently with trust in God's providence. We must join our sufferings to that of the cross.

St. Paul writes, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God's stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory" (Colossians 1:24-27).

In this life we have many trials, our Faith gives us peace and strength as we move forward with our eyes gazing upon the cross of Christ.

Through the cross we find victory!

St. Paul writes, "Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin,and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:55-56).

St. Peter would pay the ultimate price for Our Lord as he would be crucified upside down at Vatican Hill near 67 A.D. He did not feel that he deserved the same death as our Lord. It is estimated that 1 out of every 4 martyrs for Christ took place in the 20th century.

Even now in America our future is not certain with the natural disasters hitting us hard, with our economy as tough as it is on workers and their families. Through the cross of Christ, we have our hope of salvation. St. Paul also writes, "Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: 'In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you'. Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We cause no one to stumble in anything, in order that no fault may be found with our ministry; on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left; through glory and dishonor, insult and praise" (2 Corinthians 6:1-8).

We are called to pick up the cross of Christ and follow him. "Bear your share of hardship along with me like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. To satisfy the one who recruited him, a soldier does not become entangled in the business affairs of life" (2 Timothy 2:3-4). We are Soldiers of the Cross!

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