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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

This Week's Reflecton from Fr Bob Warren: Fr. Bob's Reflection on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross

Franciscan Friars
Franciscan Friars
Fr. Bob's Reflection on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross
September 14 is the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. As you look at the Cross, did you ever ask yourself the question "Why?" Why did Jesus die like this? If He had been a mere man, it would have made sense. He could not avoid it. He was up against impossible odds. The cards were stacked against Him, but it is different for the Lord of Glory. He did not have to become like us. He did not have to be born into our world. He did not have to get tired and thirsty, dusty and angry. He did not have to take insults from His own creatures. He did not have to sweat blood in a garden, beg His Father, "Do not let me die." He did not have to be condemned like a common criminal. You remember how He chided Peter for drawing a sword in His defense. "Don't you think I can appeal to my Father, and He will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?" And you remember His words as the Good Shepherd, "No one takes My life from Me. I lay it down of My own accord." He did not have to die.
Why then did He die? A clue comes from God's own book, from the gospel of John. "God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." St. Paul says in amazement, "He loved me and gave Himself for me."
Yes, the Lord of Glory did it all because He loved you. If you were the only person in the world, He would have died for you. But then you might say couldn't God have discovered a different way—a way less difficult than death on Calvary? Couldn't God have simply forgiven us and asked only that we be sorry for having offended Him. If this was not enough for divine justice, if God's Son had somehow to touch our earth in person, why didn't He come as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Why did He have to become human like us? Why did He have to experience meekness, fear, weakness, and if God the Father wanted Him to die, why couldn't he have died in bed? Died with dignity? Why ask Him to die in a bloody disgrace, mocked by the world for which He was dying, the world He created? Frankly, I do not know, I suspect no one knows save the God who invented the Passion, but one fact rings loud and clear from Calvary... where God's love is concerned, we mortals are ignorant, very uncomprehending.
We often experience what men and women will do for love, we know what a mother will go through, put up with, for the sake of her child. We know that when the chips are down, if we love enough, we will go to any lengths for the ones we love, but we find it strange to think that way about God. Perhaps because we think of God as the stern judge: impassive, unmoving, and hard as a rock. If that is the way we see our God, then we do not know Him. We have not grasped the truth that St. John tells us when he says, this is love. Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins. You see God was not content with some sort of legal redemption, a calm, cool, formal pardon for the sins of the world. He wanted to experience what we experience, live out our human condition. He wanted to learn as we learn. He wanted to love as we love, often surrounded by hate and lust. He wanted to experience first-hand what it feels like to grow and to hurt, to laugh and to cry, to grow angry and to be afraid. He was sinless, but He wanted to be where sin is. He wanted to know what makes us do the things we do. He wanted not only to heal us, to lay hands of compassion on the scarred, on the lonely, the unloved.
He wanted to feel the kind of pain that we feel. He wanted to feel what it is like to die. God's son wanted to be one of us, one with us. For Him, love was stronger than death. Greater love than this no one has that. He laid down His life for you. He did not simply die. He died for you. If He loved you that much, you must be quite extraordinary, very special. The least... or should I say the best you can do in return is to not simply live... but to live for Him. Live the way He wants, as other Christs.
And that will be the Triumph of the Cross.
Fr. Robert Warren
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Robert Warren Signature
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
Spiritual Director
Franciscan Friars
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