Fourth Sunday after the Feast of the Holy Cross
October 12, 2008
In the Season of the Holy Cross the Epistle of St. Paul and the Gospel for today are on the “same page”; both exhort us to sobriety, vigilance and careful living. The entire Season of the Holy Cross calls for sober reflection on the Mystery of God’s love, for Christ loved us even to death; His Cross brings victory as we oppose evil and do good.
Last Sunday I visited Princeton University for Respect-Life Sunday. There were over 100 young college students present witnessing God’s incredible love for every person and the truth of the dignity and respect due to each person. They witnessed that abortion is wrong; that sex before marriage is self-serving and meaningless; that marriage itself is a sacred bond bringing man and woman together as one; that experimentation and destruction of human embryos is wrong; and that assisted suicide removes God from our lives, and we lose the deeper meaning of life, suffering and death.
This comprehensive approach to the dignity of the human person is rather unpopular on a modern liberal arts campus. Nonetheless, these young people were “swimming upstream.” I wish I had such courage when I was their age! Could this be what sobriety, vigilance, and careful living means? Does being faithful sometimes mean also swimming upstream?
The example of the martyrs helps illustrate this “sober living”:
Over twenty years ago, four Maryknoll Sisters were martyred in El Salvador. Why, because they stood against injustice.
Sir Thomas More, a sixteenth century English lawyer, respected and yet hated for his silence and his respect for law, under pressure from Henry VIII, would not condone the cheapening of marriage, nor accept that the authority of State must be higher than that of God and individual conscience. “I live and die as the King’s faithful servant, but God’s first,” he said. He was martyred for his integrity and adherence to Christ.
In third century Sicily, Saint Lucy (Santa Lucia) refused to marry a non believer; she preferred the dignity of her virginity, and wanted to be consecrated to Christ completely. She was martyred for this personal devotion to Christ.
Last year, Chaldean Catholic Bishop, Paulos Raho, was martyred in Iraq. He was warned to leave, but he stood against the bullying of Islamic fundamentalists. He wanted to be close to his flock in tough times and to celebrate Liturgy with his people. He was kidnapped after a Lenten Friday Service, his body was found a few days later thrown in a ditch.
Those who stand for something, soberly, faithfully, carefully, even if not successfully as the world deems success, are sometimes not popular in their time, deemed foolish, or “uncool”. But in God’s eyes they are “way cool”! For the saints some things are worth living for, and even worth dying for.
Like the students of Princeton University, and the martyrs of the Church in every age, believers find in the Cross of Christ the strength and confidence they need to be vigilant and to await the Lord until He comes again.
Let us then promote the dignity of each human person, let us honor marriage, protect the sanctity of life from the moment of conception to natural death, and fight for the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for those born and yet unborn.
In this Season of the Cross, emotional 2008 election season, unfortunate economic crisis and season of difficulties, let us willingly, eagerly and soberly take up our Cross, love the truth and believe that there are some things worth living for and some even worth dying for!
+Gregory John Mansour
(Reprinted with permission.)