Message: If we look at the cross with faith, if we recognize that Jesus died not just for high priests' envy, but also for your envy and mine, we will receive healing and we will live.
This year the Feast of the Holy Cross falls on Sunday. For me this occurrence is providential. I have been giving a series of homilies on Finding Your Place in God's World - How to Overcome Envy (the comparison trap). The Cross of Jesus both reveals envy and provides the ultimate cure.
The Old Testament says that "through the envy of the devil death entered the world." (Wis 2:24) We see in the New Testament that envy caused the crucifixion of Jesus. It's interesting that Pilate recognizes this. Pilate is a non-Jew, an outsider. We have a difficult time recognizing our own envy, but an outsider can see it easily. Pilate sees that "out of envy the chief priests delivered Jesus up."
Instead of rejoicing in all the good Jesus had done, the authorities hated him. Why? Because they thought Jesus made them look bad by comparison: Envy, plain and simple. We saw something similar in the Holocaust. The Nazis thought the Jews had some great financial and cultural power. Because of that envy, they hated them and eventually killed most of the European Jews: the elderly, children, women - it did not matter. Their envy made them blind.
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel tells the horrific story of boy put to death by hanging.* One of the men who saw it asked, "Where is God?" From within Elie Wiesel heard a voice, "Where is He? This is where--hanging here from this gallows..." When you and I look at the cross we see God in human flesh. For that reason the cross not only reveals envy, it provides the remedy.
The first reading indicates how the cross can cure envy. The people were complaining that they had better food in Egypt. Complaining almost always involves comparison - envy. "Ma, the other kids get to do this, why can't we?" Well, God sent a punishment - a plague of serpents. There's a lot I could say about this punishment, but the point here is how God healed them. He had Moses make an image of a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. Anyone who looked at that image with faith, lived. Something similar applies to the cross. Jesus says, "just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert so must the Son of Man be lifted up..." If we look at the cross with faith, if we recognize that Jesus died not just for high priests' envy, but also for your envy and mine, we will receive healing and we will live.
As we have learned, envy demands, it gets hurt, it insists on its "rights." By way of contrast, St. Paul tells today how Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of slave. He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death - even to the most humiliating death, the cross. St. Paul then adds that because of his humility, the Father lifted him up. So he will do for us - in Christ. Through the cross we find our place in God's world.
We have only one more week in this series on Finding Your Place. I will use Pastor Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life to sum up. I believe you will find it both enlightening and encouraging. But I want you to know that today we have seen the heart of the matter - the cross. As Jesus tells us, "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." Amen.
*Here is the full quote (too graphic for a homily):
“Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing... And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking: "For God's sake, where is God?" And from within me, I heard a voice answer: "Where He is? This is where--hanging here from this gallows..."
That night, the soup tasted of corpses.” ― Elie Wiesel, Night
Finding Your Place Week 1:
Finding Your Place Week 2:
Finding Your Place Week 3:
Finding Your Place Week 4:
Finding Your Place Week 5:
Week 6: Exaltation of the Cross
Week 7: Summing Up - Are You Envious Because I am Generous?:
From Archives (for Exaltation of Cross):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Fr. Brad's Homilies (well worth listening)
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
KRA’s and SMART Goals (updated Sept 2, 2014)
Prayer concern: How can Monroe Pastors better collaborate with our School District?