town fiesta celebration honors the Triumph of the Cross of Jesus. It also
honors the finding of the relics of the Cross of Jesus by Saint Helena, the
Mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, in 326 A.D. Helena commissioned a
church to be built over the site of the discovery. The Church of the Holy
Sepulcher was consecrated on September 13, 335 A.D. The day after was
proclaimed as the official feast of the Exaltation of the Cross of Jesus.
for the feast invite us to reflect on the meaning of the cross of Jesus. The
Church has always meditated on the story of the bronze serpent hanging on a
pole as a foreshadow of the cross of Jesus.
When the chosen
people complained about the desert’s severe conditions and regretted that they
had left Egypt, Yahweh became angry.
“In punishment, the Lord sent
among the people seraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them
died” (Numbers 21: 6). The people begged for clemency, and Moses interceded
on behalf of them with Yahweh. God heard their pleas for mercy that He
instructed Moses, “Make a seraph and
mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at, he will
recover.” Moses did as he was instructed. “Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and
whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent,
he recovered.” (Numbers 21:8-9).
remarkable passage, the Gospel of John makes an explicit reference to this
desert incident. “Just as Moses lifted up
the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that all who
believe may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14-15). This “lifting up” of
Jesus is, of course, a reference to his Crucifixion, Resurrection, and
Ascension. By His Cross and Resurrection, He becomes the living sign of
salvation to all who believe in Him. The exaltation of Jesus brings to all
believers the Father’s healing and redeeming love. Through Jesus, the cross
became the means of reconciling fallen and sinful humankind with God. Amidst
the disobedience of the people of Israel, God exercises his benevolent power.
Amidst the rejection of Israel and continued sinning of humanity, the sacrifice
of Jesus on the cross is a perpetual reminder of God’s power to heal and
forgive. Christ was crucified on the cross for mankind to experience the saving
love of God. The crucifixion is a visible sign of God’s passionate love for us.
bronze serpent was the “symbol of salvation” for the Israelites (see Wisdom 16:
6), so Jesus is the ultimate symbol of salvation for us. Like the Israelites,
in the desert of our lives, we frequently complain about God’s plan for us. We
fall into a habit of self-pity: a habit of concentrating on our daily troubles
and sorrows. We allow this negative pattern to alienate us from God, erode our
relationship with others, and cast a black shadow over our lives.
Thus, like the Israelites, we are given the “grace moment”
Carigara town fiesta celebration in Canada to acknowledge that “we have sinned
in complaining against the
Lord.” Now, let us look upon the exalted Savior, so that we can be healed.
Lifted up on the cross, he is in truth the supreme manifestation of the
Father’s love for us. Through our sins, which he took on himself, and by his
holy cross, Jesus redeemed the world.
Renewed, refreshed, and reconciled in this fiesta celebration, we who
have sinned are a “new creation.”
Once more we are made new. Once more we are healed.
The way of Christian spirituality is the way of the cross. There is no
other route. We are known as followers of the cross. The true privilege of following
Christ is the privilege of the cross. But the cost of discipleship involves a
dying to self which is inescapable if one wants to become a new creature in
Christ. Jesus teaches us, “If a man
wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross and
follow me” (Mt. 16: 21-27). Once we decide to follow Jesus as disciples, we
are destined to share in his sufferings, but only that we might save ourselves
in the process and also share in his glory.
The cross is always a scandal. It is more so today in our push bottom
civilization that emphasizes the easy way in everything. Materialism becomes
the center of the human heart. We simply want a life free from trials and
sacrifices. In fact, most of our prayers are directed toward alleviating human
sufferings. But human experience
teaches us that in this life there is no great achievement without effort,
pain, and sacrifice. The common athletic locker room slogan of “No pain, no
gain” fits equally well in our journey of faith to follow Jesus. Really,
beautiful things are difficult. This applies to sports, arts, science, and technology.
And this also applies to our commitment to follow Jesus.
Like pebbles on a beach, suffering is part of the human landscape. And,
like pebbles, suffering comes in different shapes and sizes. From experience,
we know that everybody suffers in one way or another. Each one of us could
easily pinpoint the suffering that most severely touches our lives. There is
physical suffering: not only the aches and pains of daily life but also the
serious illnesses that can come upon us in the blink of an eye. There is emotional
loneliness, depression, or fear that bedevils so many lives. There is spiritual
suffering: the desire to overcome temptation, the intention to grow in
holiness, and the failure to do so. The list of human sufferings is endless.
key question that confronts us, then, is not whether we will suffer but how we
will suffer. How are to deal with suffering? Through history, people have
sought a solution to suffering. There are many philosophies and schools of
thought. The stoic, for example, insisted on an attitude of endurance in the
face of pain, a refusal to acknowledge suffering or give in to complaint. The
Buddhists, on the other hand, said that the best approach was to suppress all
desires, experience nirvana of oblivion. If you desire nothing, you cannot be
hurt or disappointed. The Christian view, in most simple terms, is acceptance
of suffering in union with Christ. The sufferings of Christ were redemptive
because they were enriched with love. A disciple of Jesus must have the same
attitude toward suffering that Jesus had.
Celebrating the Carigara Town Fiesta in Canada challenges our faith that
we cannot allow ourselves to quit whenever some crosses confront us. Instead,
as Jesus says, we have to take up that cross and resolutely follow in his
is a popular Protestant hymn that summarizes what it means to be a determined
and resolute Christian. A couple of it read: “The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back, no turning
back. Though none go with me,
still I will follow. No turning back, no turning.”
Maupay nga Patron
ha iyo ngatanan!