Lectionary Reflections: Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross September 14, 2014

Engaging Faith | Thu, Sep 4, 2014

By John Bucki, S.J.

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

  1. September 14, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


Numbers 21:4b-9

Philippians 2:6-11

John 3:13-17



September 15: Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

September 15: Start of National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 16: International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

September 21: International Peace Day

September 21: People’s Climate March 



There is in our history a barbarous excess of suffering, a violence and destructiveness so intense in quality and extensive in scope that it can only be named genuine evil. … Radical suffering afflicts millions of people the world over in intense and oppressive ways. … A God who is not in some way affected by such pain is not really worthy of human love and praise. … Wisdom participates in the suffering of the world and overcomes, inconceivably, from within through the power of love. … the mystery of God is here in solidarity with those who suffer. … Against the background of the history of human injustice and suffering, the suffering God is the most productive and critical symbol for it cannot be uttered without human beings hearing the challenge to solidarity and hope.

- Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is


The Cross stands before us in these days as an eloquent symbol of God's love for humanity. … In his Passion, Death and Resurrection, we are shown that the last word in human existence is not death but God's victory over death. Divine love, manifested in its fullness in the paschal mystery, overcomes death and sin, which is its cause (cf. Rom 5: 12).

- John Paul II, General Audience, April 19, 2000


We must make haste. Too many people are suffering. While some make progress, others stand still or move backwards; and the gap between them is widening.

- Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 29


We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice and sin. 

- Pope Francis on twitter @Pontifex 24 Mar 2013


Thoughts for your consideration

Millions and millions of people suffer from social injustice. As Paul VI said many years ago: “Too many people are suffering.”  

The suffering of Jesus is connected with the suffering of the world and its people of all times and places – especially the poor and powerless. In Jesus nailed to a cross, we see a person of great freedom and compassionate love and a special awesome power - the power of the suffering God crying out for justice. As we think of the cross, we are called not into an unreal, sentimental sorrow, but into a deeper awareness of life and its sorrow and into a deeper desire to work for an end to injustice and suffering.  

As we reflect on the sufferings of Christ, we must reflect on the sufferings of so many people throughout human history and so many people in our world today.  Our Christian faith does not cover up or deny the reality of suffering in the world.  Our Christian faith calls us to condemn all suffering that comes from human injustice and to respond in some way to put an end to this suffering.  Our faith calls us to believe that God is with us and shares in our suffering.  Our faith calls us to believe that suffering is not the final word. 

In reflecting of the suffering of the cross, we are lead to a deep solidarity with our God and a deep solidarity with each other.  In solidarity, Jesus “…became the source of eternal salvation.”  In solidarity we see suffering and struggle and we discover a new spirit in Christ.



"Why is everyone here so happy except me?"

"Because they have learned to see goodness and beauty everywhere," said the Master.

"Why don't I see goodness and beauty everywhere?"

"Because you cannot see outside of you what you fail to see inside."

- Anthony de Mello, S.J., One Minute Wisdom - 


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

- How does human suffering affect you? Share concrete examples.

- There is so much suffering in the world today.  Which examples touch you the most?


Actions - Links

People’s Climate March

The People’s Climate March is scheduled for New York on September 21. It is expected to be the world’s largest climate march in history. For info go to: 


International Peace Day

September 21 is also International Peace Day. For info go to: or 

“Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.  To mark the 30th anniversary of the General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, the theme of this year’s International Day of Peace is the “Right of Peoples to Peace”.”

For action ideas go to:  

Perhaps you have already seen people posting selfies around this issue!


Crazy Facts

The following is from a press release from the UNHCR from 29 August 2014:

“Syria's intensifying refugee crisis will today surpass a record three million people, amid reports of increasingly horrifying conditions inside the country – cities where populations are surrounded, people are going hungry and civilians are being targeted or indiscriminately killed.  Almost half of all Syrians have now been forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives. One in every eight Syrians has fled across the border, fully a million people more than a year ago. A further 6.5 million are displaced within Syria. Over half of those uprooted are children.”


The following is from

“Since the beginning of human civilization, our atmosphere contained about 275 ppm of carbon dioxide. That is the planet “on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal, gas, and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. 

Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating our homes rely on energy sources that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, once stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere.  Right now we’re at 400 ppm, and we’re adding 2 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year. Unless we are able to rapidly turn that around and return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk triggering tipping points and irreversible impacts that could send climate change spinning truly beyond our control.” 


Prayers of Intercession

Response:  God with us, hear our prayer.

For all those who suffering from injustice in our day, we pray….

For all those who are victims of torture, oppression, criminal activity, or any kind of violence, we pray….

For people in lands torn by violence, places like Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Libya, Central African Republic, we pray ….

For the millions of people caught up in our criminal justice system, we pray…

For all those who are on death row anywhere in the world, we pray….

For all those who are victims of domestic violence, we pray…..

For those who do not have access to the healthcare they need, we pray…..

For all those who are denied their basic human rights, we pray….

For all our efforts to make real the new, nonviolent, loving vision of Jesus Christ, we pray…


Prayer – Meditation 

Where is our God in suffering? We Christians do not have a fully satisfying explanation for why the world contains so much suffering. But we have something better: we have the power to deal with the suffering. We know where our God is during suffering. Our God is with us: with the Jewish boy on the gallows, with Ivan Ilyich in sickness, with Job in adversity, with Paul in weakness and persecution, with Jesus in crucifixion—with us in all the senseless accidents and ruptured relationships and interior brokenness of our lives.  

- Richard Hauser, S.J., Finding God in Troubled Times

- See more at:


LORD JESUS, You were angry and indignant when you saw people hurt by injustice. We share your anger with those systems of injustice and hatred in the world. Thank you that you offer us a new way of acting that overcomes injustice –

a way of love. Help each of us to live out the words and phrases we have shared, So that – with your Holy Spirit – we might be able to transform the world around us. Amen



Stations of the Cross of Jesus Christ

1. Jesus is condemned to death

Jesus is trapped by the same system that brings us the death penalty, the harshness of life in prison, political prisoners, torture, white color crime, racial profiling, the criminalization of the poor, and all the inequities of our world’s “criminal justice systems.”

2. Jesus is made to carry his cross

Jesus carries his burden as do all those who work the land, labor for low wages, struggle to find work, care for their children and family, worry over their debts, strive for their children, attend poor schools, are abused by their bosses, or in any way struggle to make it in this world.

3. Jesus falls the first time

The burden that crushes Jesus can be compared to the burdens of today - the burden of debt that crushes the poor economies of the world - the unequal distribution of resources which stifles development for many people and nations.

4. Jesus meets his mother

Jesus looks on his mother with love and sees all the pain and possibility of relationship, deep family love and fidelity, abuse and violence, mutual loving care, separation and divorce, loneliness and community.

5. Simon helps Jesus carry his cross

Jesus' story becomes Simon’s story as well. Globalization can be both a burden and a relief, a freedom and a limit. Jesus and Simon are both victims and helpers. Good and evil play out as their lives are connected.

6. Jesus falls the second time

The burden that crushes Jesus is unfair - as are the economic and political inequalities of our day - wages, resources, schools, rights, beauty, power, savings, and taxes. Our systems are not always fair.

7. Veronica wipes the faces of Jesus

This “small” act of charity is a most wonderful action of great compassion. It seems to be all that Veronica can do at the moment, yet the injustice remains. She cannot stop the suffering of Jesus. The compassion of Veronica calls out for social change, for an end to injustice, for a new way of living together.

8. Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem

Women seem to bear the burdens of the world in a special way.  Women feel deeply the pain and injustice of our systems. The experience of women throughout the ages calls us to end the injustice.  It calls us to a new heaven and a new earth, to a new way of being sisters and brothers.

9. Jesus falls the third time

The burden that crushes Jesus is like the burden of materialism. Every time the world worships things before people, power before justice, and consumption before the spirit, we lose what it means to be human and alive.

10. Jesus is stripped of his garments

This radical loss of everything continues to be felt in the lives of all the poor - those without enough food, clothing, shelter, education, respect, dignity, human rights, and healthy community.

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross

Jesus is a person of active nonviolence, yet here he comes to know violence against his person - the same violence that is seen in all our wars and preparation for war, in all the violence on our streets and in our homes, in all our weapons of mass destruction, in ethnic cleansing, in genocide, in all the countless examples of violence.

12. Jesus dies on the cross

Power and control seem to be dominate values in our world, yet Jesus seems to lose all of these things that the world considers important. Yet at the same time, in Jesus nailed to a cross, we see a person of great freedom and compassionate love and a special awesome power - the power of the suffering God crying out for justice.

13. Jesus is taken down from the cross

Jesus is radically stripped of everything. He is a human person whose rights and dignity and been taken away. In Jesus, we see all the women and men of our world who still seek their basic human rights - rights to the basics like food, water, clothing, shelter, education, political freedom, development and justice.

14. Jesus is placed in the tomb

Jesus is carefully placed into the earth - an earth that is the divine creation - a planet that we so often abuse as we waste resources, seek profit before all else, consume without awareness, and disrespect the awesome beauty that is God’s gift.