The Word in other Words

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T H E  W O R D
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - A
September 14, 2014

Nm 21: 4-9

   The people’s patience was worn out by the journey; so the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

   So the LORD sent among the people seraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray to the LORD to take the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses: Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover. Accordingly Moses made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever the serpent bit someone, the person looked at the bronze serpent and recovered.

Phil 2: 6-11

Brothers and sisters: Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Jn 3: 13-17

   Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 
   “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

I N  O T H E R  W O R D S

   Jn 3:16 is very well known especially among the youth. This Gospel passage was even made into a song for the1995 World Youth Day. Indeed, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.” 
   I remember in my early years in the seminary, our formator suggested to us to replace the word “world” with our personal name, so that it would read: God so loved Antonio, that He gave his only Son... Yes, doing so made it really personal. Indeed, Jesus came to save me and everybody else in the world. Jesus’ saving action is reflected in his words: “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Thus, our celebration of the Exaltation of the Cross is our recognition and acceptance of the Crucified Christ as having redeemed the world through the Cross.
   St. Paul would write about Jesus in his letter to the Philippians: “Though being divine in nature, he did not claim in fact equality with God, but emptied himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in his appearance found as a man. He humbled himself by being obedient to death, on the cross.”
   Somebody made an observation about Jesus hanging on the cross, “If you look at Jesus hanging on the cross, you can figure the letters T and Y. The letters stand for T-hank Y-ou.” Before Jesus’ experience of the cross, he had the last supper, the first Eucharist, with his beloved friends. The word Eucharist means thanksgiving. Indeed, it was Jesus’ thanksgiving to the Father for everything, for his mission, for the men entrusted to him. The Eucharist is also our thanksgiving together with Jesus whenever we celebrate it. Jesus’ crucifixion is his bloody sacrifice, the Eucharist we celebrate is his unbloody sacrifice. 
   The crucifixion which was the worst punishment for a criminal during the time of Jesus is transformed by Jesus into an instrument of salvation. Thus we say when we pray the ‘stations of the cross’: “We adore you O Christ, and we praise you; because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”

– Fr. Antonio Pegon, SVD (DWS, Tagaytay City)





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