03 July 2022

What's keeping you from the Cross?

14th Sunday OT

Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP

St. Albert the Great, Irving, TX

I have been crucified to the world and the world to me. Through the cross of Christ Jesus, I have been crucified. What is it to be crucified? In the literal sense, it means that I've been nailed to a cross, executed as a criminal. But Paul is writing to the Galatians. He is quite plainly not writing a letter while hanging from a cross. So, being crucified to the world and the world to him must be taken metaphorically. Maybe being crucified is a way of saying dead to the world or detached from the world. That's certainly part of what it means. But Paul says that it is through the cross of Christ that he and the world are crucified. So, the cross of Christ is the medium, the means through which all this crucifying is done. Not just any old cross. Not just any old execution. But that specific cross on that particular day with that exceptional body and soul. Every other crucifixion is an execution. A run-away slave. A deserter. A rebel. But this crucifixion, the one Paul takes into himself, that crucifixion is a sacrifice. The victim, the priest, and the altar are all Christ Jesus. And thus from all eternity, we are gifted with the Sacramentum caritatis.

And that is what we are here this morning to participate in – the sacrament of charity. We are here to be crucified. We are here to be crossified. To be joined to The Cross of Christ, to be transformed into victims, priests, and altars for the salvation of the world. How else can we honor our baptismal vows? How else can we follow Christ? Two thousand years after the resurrection and there is still work to be done. Not just busy work, paperwork, or make work. But the real work of bearing witness to God's freely offered mercy. The real work of preaching and teaching the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The real work of living as Christs in the world w/o becoming subject to the world. Lots of work yet to be done. And looking around us – at the Church, at the world – we can see that only a few are putting their hands to the plow. Jesus himself says that the laborers are few but the harvest is abundant. We can be both alarmed and comforted by this truth. It has always been so. The question for us this morning: am I one of the laborers working to bring in the harvest? Am I among those who will be crucified, crossified for the sake of Christ's mission? If your answer is no, or I don't know, what's keeping you from the Cross?

Maybe it's one of the Usual Suspects: fear of rejection or defeat; false humility; cowardice. Could be one of the Big Seven: wrath, maybe. Or greed. Both attach us to this temporary world. All seven lead us down into irrationality and passionate self-destruction. If I were a betting friar, I'd bet it's Pride – that original sin that lies to us, telling us that we can be god without God. That we can be Christ without the Cross. That we can labor for the harvest without sacrifice, without love, without giving glory to the Father. That the labor itself is all that counts. My work, my time, my treasure. Never once giving thanks and praise to God for the gifts He gives. As if, we are working out of what we have earned rather than received. Pride fools us into thinking and believing that the imperfect can be perfected by the imperfect. That wounds heal wounds. That sin forgives sin. That death conquers death. Only love can do these things. Only divine love can do them perfectly. And divine love hangs on The Cross. If you will be a laborer for Christ, you will be crucified. To the world, you will dead. For Christ and his Church, you will be more alive than when you were first born.     

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