The Readings for the 14th Sunday, Tempus per Annum (C1)
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Disciples become Apostles. You never stop being a disciple of course, but eventually, you hit a point where you must become an Apostle. Disciple means learning. Apostle means sent. You never stop learning, however, eventually you have to start teaching. You never stop praying however eventually you must begin preaching. The Christian life is not a give me, give me, give me experience. The Christian Life is a give me so I can give away experience. If you never become an apostle it is as if you stayed in third grade because you were afraid of graduating college.
Saint Francis is often misquoted as saying, “Preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary.” He never said this and, in fact, it would be silly for the man who preached to Muslims and to birds – who never stopped using words – to say something like this. This is often used to tell people to shut up, or to “do social justice” instead of preaching. Eventually, you have to speak up.
But Francis did, in his rule, advise his spiritual sons and daughters, to preach the Gospel with every aspect of their lives – not only their lips, but with their hands, heart, mind, and feet as well. Jesus sends out his 72 Disciples as Apostles to prepare the way for him as he is coming to share the Good News everywhere. Jesus says, “Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.” Yet he adds, pointedly, that this should not be our pride: rather we should rejoice that our names are “written in heaven”.
So it is that Saint Paul says he will only boast in the cross of Jesus. There is nothing of more praise, nothing of more joy, nothing of more peace for the Christian than the Cross of Christ.
The cross is the sign of God’s love for us, the depth to which God will go for us even in his Mercy.
It was not enough that God should create us.
It was not enough that God should give us his Covenant.
It was not enough that God should become one of us.
It was not enough that God should teach us in his own voice.
It was not enough that God would interpret his Covenant in his own words to us.
It was not enough that God should eat with us.
It was not enough that God should love us that much.
It was enough that God should die for us.
That we should kill God and have God rise again.
This is God’s love for us.
This is how deep God will go.
This is how attached to his creation by love is God: that he will let us attach him to wood by steel in his hands and his feet and his side.
God is affixed to us, nailed to us like a cross by his love for us as we have affixed him to wood in our hate.
This is what it means to glory in the Cross of Christ. without the cross there is no Resurrection, without the cross there is no Eucharist, without the cross there is no harrowing of hell, Without The Cross there is no church. We have no idea what God’s could have done, we only know what he did do. And so we don’t have “The Cross as Plan B”. We have the Cross as the only plan we can possibly know.
The lamb was slain before the foundations of the world. There is no plan other than this. And so, in the Cross of Christ I will glory. For this is the love that he has for me. This is the love he has for you. The cross. The cross. The cross. This is Jesus’ love for you. This is God reaching to each of us in mercy and love.
The cross. The cross. The cross. Let me shout it from the housetop, let me sing it from the tops of mountains, let me pray it from the depths of my heart! The cross! The cross! The cross! God forgive us that we needed the cross. God love us for we needed the cross.
God open to us the gates of the cross that we too may be affixed to you on this wood.
That we too may love you this much.
That we too may sacrifice everything we have, that we too may be as given to you as you are given to us.
This is how we are disciples.
How we take this message in our lives to others is how we are Apostles.
There is yet one other aspect of this message. when we take it to the world we are Apostles, but when we bring it back to the church we are prophets. God would have this message inside and outside his church. We disciple so that we can be Apostles to those outside the church and so that we can be prophets to those inside the church so that we can raise the church out. so that the Holy Spirit can once again be freed to work inside the church. God has promised to revive Jerusalem. God has promised to heal Israel. God has promised to bring her children back to her. And so we should be ready. That’s as disciples, as apostles, and as prophets.