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July 7, 2019: The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Pastor’s Corner

“Brothers and sisters: 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. For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation.  Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.” (Galatians 6:14-18)

Our second reading this weekend gives us a powerful, if brief, theology of the cross. For those in the first century, the cross was a sign of death and shame.  Crucifixion was the most painful and ignominious death one could suffer and, for this reason, Roman citizens were spared from this form of death, regardless of their crime.  So it is altogether striking when St. Paul says that he “boasts” in the cross of Christ.  Imagine is if someone today would argue that the electric chair is a sign of cultural and spiritual blessing. We would rightly think that the person was a bit off.  Yet, this is precisely at the heart of the mystery of the cross.  St. Paul grasps the core of this mysterious reality: Jesus has transformed the cross from a symbol of death into one of life.  It is a great paradox that the instrument of torture and death becomes the means by which God’s love is revealed and eternal life flowers. One who has united themselves to Christ precisely in their sufferings is “a new creation.”

High aloft in the rood beam demarking the sanctuary from the nave here at St. Dominic’s, there is a scene of the crucifixion. This is one of the oldest features of our present Church as it was part of the original Church dedicated in 1873. One of the few devotionals which survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, it stands as a symbol of Christ’s loving presence in our community.  Jesus is in the center of the tableau surrounded by the Blessed Virgin Mary on his left and the Beloved disciple, St John, on his right.  The words of the inscription below are in Latin: “Nos autem gloriae oportet in Cruce Domini nostri Iesu Christi, in quo est salus, vita, et resurrectio nostra.” Translated into English, it reads: “It proper for us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection.” As you spend time in the Church, cast your eyes up to the cross in rafters and meditate on these powerful words.  Ask yourself: “Have I truly appreciated God’s love for me?” “Do I pray the sign of the cross often throughout the day as a reminder of God’s love?” “Do the sufferings of life paralyze me, or do I invite the suffering Christ to accompany me in my travails?” “Do I consider how my misfortunes and sorrows might be the source of God’s glory and love in me?” “Am I willing to live as Christ with a heart of loving sacrifice?” Like St. Paul may we live the mystery of the Cross in our lives as we witness to God’s love.

~Fr Michael


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