@ 2007 Diocese of

Bishop Stude

Home

Acceptance of the Holy Cross, Ascent to Mount Samat

 

Introductory reflection:

 

In Roman Times, cross stands for barbaric cruelty. It was a horrible punishment used for criminals. Thus, the cross was a symbol of shame and a means for a long painful death.

When Jesus unconditionally carried the cross and willingly accepted the crucifixion, He showed how much He loves us, how much He is willing to suffer for us. And thus the cross which was an instrument of defeat and death became the way of redemption and victory. With Jesus rising from the death, the cross was transformed from humiliation to glorification, from death to life, and from suffering to salvation. The Catechism of the Universal Church attests “by his glorious cross Christ has won salvation for all men” (1741).

And when we wholeheartedly accept our cross we can share in the triumph of Jesus. When we endure the cross in this earthly life as Jesus did then we can also experience the glory of His resurrection. Likewise we can also proclaim what Saint Paul told to the Galatians “may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6,14).

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Deus est caritas affirms that “contemplating the cross, man might recognize the fullness of love” (12).

Let me share with you this anecdote. A child asks his father to describe for him how much God loves him. The father replied “my son, God’s love is like arithmetic.” “How is that, daddy?” the child wanted to know. He answered “one (1) cross plus three (3) nails equals (4) forgiveness.”

Jesus came into this world and became one of us except in sin with only one aim. It is to fulfill to the letter the divine plan of God the Father. The divine plan of God the Father is for our salvation, that is, we might be redeemed from sin and from Satan. Jesus carried out this divine plan of God the Father through the cross. The cross was His only possession. The cross was the instrument and means for our salvation. With the cross of Christ we are identified with Him. And so we can pray “we adore you o Christ, and we bless you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” Jesus is reminding us always “whoever does not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10,38).

Saint Thomas Aquinas used to pray “the cross, my sure salvation; the cross I always worship; the Lord’s cross with me; the cross, my sure refuge. May the powerful and sweet strength of your love free me from all worldly things so that I may die for love of him who, for love of me, surrendered himself to death on the wood of cross.”

Sending off (at the foot of Mount Samat in Barangay Diwa for 9 kilometers ascent to the Holy Cross):

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself

and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9,23)

These are the essential requirements to be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. And these are three. First is to deny oneself. We do not live only for ourselves. We do not keep our life and what we have only for us. Our lives are for others. We live and exist for one another. We are for Jesus. And being for Jesus, we are for others, too. And so to deny oneself is to obey God and not oneself, to glorify God and not to gratify oneself, to acknowledge God and to obliterate oneself. Second is to take up the cross. To follow Jesus is to carry the cross. We must give up what we cherish most. We must surrender what is dearest to us. We must let go of what is nearest to us. Then we must consider the cross of Jesus as the fundamental feature of our existence. The cross of Jesus is our life. It is our hope. It is our only strength. The cross of is our surest way to Jesus. Thus, to take up the cross of Jesus is to be ready for a life of sacrifice and sufferings. Third is to follow him. This is to render perfect obedience to Jesus. A follower of Jesus fixes his eyes upon Him, sets his heart on Him and offers his entire life for Jesus and for His mission. In following Jesus we trace His footsteps, speak His Word and relive His life.

These requirements to be disciple of Jesus are made not only once in a while. These are not on a per day basis. These are not according to our moods. Jesus unceasingly invites us. He is continuously calling and inviting. It is daily. Thus, discipleship is everyday. And it is anytime, anywhere and for everyone.

First Stop:

“Jesus was led away and carrying the cross by himself, went out to

what is called the place of the skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha)” (John 19:16-17)

Jesus did nothing wrong. He was condemned to death for our sake. He suffered for us. Jesus called us and came to us in order to serve us and save us. Jesus accepted everything so that we may realize the reality of what he preached “no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends…” (John 15:13).

We pray:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, our savior and beloved Son of God

Give us the grace and guidance to follow you and do what you did:

to accept the cross, and not to reject it,

to carry the cross, and not to give it up,

to look up to the cross, and not to ignore it,

to embrace the cross, and not to lose it.

Help us believe and realize that:

The cross is our light and we will not be misled.

The cross is our blessing and we will not be broken.

The cross is our healing and we will not be hopeless.

The cross is our salvation and we will not be lost in this life.

Amen.

Second stop:

“On the way they met a man from Cyrene called Simon,

and forced him to carry the cross of Jesus” (Matthew 27:32)

Jesus accepted the false verdict. He carried the cross. The cross is heavy. The Calvary is still a long way to go. The weight of the cross has drained His strength. Yet Jesus did not stop. He struggled. He rose up. And Jesus continued amidst His agony and pain. It was a relief of a helping hand. Even if it was not voluntary and freely given. Simon of Cyrene helped.

Jesus needs us. He wants us to carry His cross and continue His works. Let us respond freely. There is no need to be told or asked to. There is nothing to be afraid. And we should not be hesitant to help and to serve. Let us be Simon of Cyrene to those who are burdened by their daily crosses. Jesus wants us to be another Simon of Cyrene to Him and to one another. He is reminding us “whenever you did this to these little ones who are my brothers and sisters, you did it to me” (Matthew 52:40).

We pray:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, our savior and beloved Son of God

We humbly beg you to make us aware of the needs and sufferings of our brothers and sisters.

Make us get involved especially when our help is urgently needed.

Make us sensitive to their struggles and sorrows.

Make us compassionate towards our neighbors and charitable in our dealing with them.

Make us available for them.

Make us do something to relieve their sadness and shame.

Make us always pleasing to you and helpful to your people.

Amen.

Third stop:

“Jesus turned to them and said, ‘women of Jerusalem, do not weep for me,

weep rather for yourselves and for your children…” (Luke 23:28)

Jesus is always looking for us, watching us and walks with us. He cares for us so much. He empathizes with us. Jesus is not preoccupied with the sufferings and sacrifices He endured. He is more concerned about us. And so He wants us to look deeper into our lives and to do something conscientiously. Jesus advises us not to cry but to be contrite, not merely observe but to serve, and not to just watch but to bear witness. He is reminding us “he humbled himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross” (Phil 2:8).

We pray:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, our savior and beloved Son of God

With contrite heart and in humble supplication

Grant us good health, heal us and spare us from sickness.

Give us courage to face our problems and grant the means to solve them.

Make us always careful and safe against any accident.

Spare us from harms, nurse our hurts and help us in our daily needs.

Amen.

Standing on: (at the top of the mountain beneath the Holy Cross)

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother…” (John 19:25)

Jesus never abandons those whom He loves. His love endures. Jesus will never neglect those who follow Him and serve Him. Jesus takes good care of us. He does many beautiful and bountiful things for us. He makes sure that we are protected, blessed and favored. Jesus entrusted His dearest Mother Mary to His beloved disciple. And Jesus gave His beloved disciple a loving Mother who will thoughtfully care for him. Jesus entrusts to us His Mother Mary whom we must respect, cherish and serve. And so on the cross amid pain and at the point of cruel death, still thought of our wellbeing and welfare as He said “woman, this is your son. Then he said to his disciple, there is your mother” (John 19:27).

We pray:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, our savior and beloved Son of God

We humbly ask your blessings.

Bless our parents that they will always be secured, safe and enjoy sound health.

Bless our marital partners (name) that they might always be stable and strong against temptations.

Bless our children that they may grow as responsible and respectful sons and daughters.

Bless our homes that there will always be peace, unity and harmony.

Bless our employers that they may be more understanding and compassionate.

Bless our works that they would be more fruitful, enjoyable and meaningful.

Bless our days that they will be best and beneficial for us.

And bless us so that we can always be happy and holy, pleasing and prosperous.

Amen.

Concluding reflection:

Jesus loves us so much. And He loves us till to the end. He assumes our sufferings and sins. He accepts the punishment due to us. He takes our place and died on our behalf. And we did not hear any accusing words from Him. Jesus did not blame us for our faults and failures. He did not abandon us, nor condemn us for our sins. He loves us so much that He forgives us. He cares so much for us that He saves us. Jesus is constantly reminding us “the Son of Man who has come, not to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem many” (Matthew 20,28)

Let me tell you this interesting episode in the life of Saint Thomas Aquinas. In spite of his intellectual excellence, Saint Thomas remained humble and simple man of God, even to the point of referring himself as ‘the dumb ox.’ When asked once where he learned and how he knew so much about Jesus, Saint Thomas was straightforward in his answer. He replied, “the crucifix.

As we travel through the rugged and rough roads of life the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is surely our comfort and consolation. It will give us strength as we struggle or suffer in our earthly life. In the event of despair and discouragement the cross illumines as our hope and our help. Let us then focus our mission to Jesus. Let us fix our vision to His cross.

We pray:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, our savior and beloved Son of God

Through the maternal guidance and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,

your loving and caring Mother, we pray and promise:

to follow your Commandments and reject all contrary to your teachings especially about human life,

to remain faithful to our marital partners and reject same sex marriage,

to let our loved ones live with dignity and not to abandon them,

to become God-fearing family and not to neglect our marital and parental duties,

to build the future of our children on the Gospel values,

to be responsible stewards of your creation

and as devoted sons and daughters of the Church.

Amen.

 

+Ruperto Cruz Santos

Bishop of Balanga

 

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2011

item3
Diocese of Balanga
(Bataan, Philippines)