Daily Readings Reflection for 9/14/09


Reflection on the Daily Readings for 9/14/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Lectionary # 638. Numbers 21:4-9. Philippians 2:6-11. John
3:13-17.  September 14, 2009

“We adore you , O Christ, and we praise you, because by your Cross you have
redeemed the world.” Some of you remember this sentence which was said at
each station of the Cross during Lent.  It does capture the event of Jesus’
death on the Cross especially as it is symbolized in the theological Gospel
of John.  This feast of the Exaltation of Christ is a reflection on Jesus’
return to the eternal kingdom at the right hand of the Father or as St.
John would expres it to the bosom of the Father.  Such language is deeply
symbolic and theological in the Fourth Gospel but it does show that Jesus
death on the Cross is the victory over death, sin, and the devil.  We focus
on Jesus being lifted up on the Cross in such a victory.  Instead of the
three direct predictions about this event found in the Synoptic Gospels
(Mark, Matthew, and Luke) we find the Fourth Gospel speaking of Jesus being
lifted up on three occasions. The first is the one that is used in the
dialogue of Jesus with Nicodemus who has come to Jesus by night. Jesus
harkens back to the first reading which speaks of Moses lifting up a brazen
serpent in the desert and having the people who have been bitten by fiery
saraphs to be healed.  Jesus says, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in
the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that all who believe may
have life in him.” Our first reading gives us the background for Jesus
using this example in his dialogue with Nicodemus.

The occasion is Jesus discourse on baptism to this member of the Sanhedrin,
a Pharisee, whose name means “conqueror for the people.”  Nicodemus will
come to speak to that council on behalf of Jesus (see John 7:50) and then
at the end of the Gospel will take part in the burial of Jesus procuring
costly spices for the body of Jesus before it is laid in the tomb (see John
19:39).  Nicodemus most likely became a disciple of Jesus. Perhaps, he came
to see what Jesus meant by his being lifted up on the Cross.

John’s three references to the “being lifted up” are found in our text and
in John 8:28 and John 12:32-34 (cf. Isaiah 52:32-34). The tradition of the
Gospel accounts thus is consistent in telling us that Jesus referred
explicitly to the Paschal Mysteries of his suffering, death, and
resurrection on three distinct occasions.

Our hymn from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians comes from an early
liturgical remembrance of Jesus that probably was sung and came to be known
as the “Carmen Christi” (the hymn of Christ).  It is similar in some
respects to what the Prologue of Jesus says and may also be a hymn that
speaks of the eternal life of Jesus with the Father as the Word and Son of
God.  “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not deem
equality with God something to be grasped at.  Rather, he emptied himself
and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men.”

By reading the Prologue of John and this hymn one gets the theology of the
lifting up into our minds and hearts.This day then is a celebration of a
spiritual and cosmic victory of Jesus Christ, Son of God, become son of
Mary for the salvation of all.”  For believing Christians the Cross leads
us to reflect on who Jesus is and enables us to answer the question posed
in the Gospel, Who do you say I am.  Jesus corrects his disciple Peter to
realize that he must think the thoughts of God and not of men and women to
understand that Jesus as Messiah is the Suffering Servant of God imaged in
the hymns of Isaiah in part two and three of the majestic prophet.   On
this day it is quite fitting to pray the following “Three  O’Clock Prayer”:

Lord Jesus, we gather in spirit at the foot of the Cross with your
Mother and the disicple whom you loved.
We ask your pardon for our sins which are the cause of your death. We
thank you for remembering us
in that hour of salvation and for giving us Mary as our Mother.
Holy Virgin, take us under your protection and open us to the action
of the Holy Spirt. St. John, obtain for
us the grace of taking Mary into our life as you did, and of
assisting her in her mission..
May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all
places through the Immaculate Virgin
Mary. Amen


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