My Sisters and Brothers! That scene from the Book of Numbers leads us to the Gospel where Jesus looks into his near future where the cross and his Resurrection appear. Jesus says: “The Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” As Christians we are in the picture of the crucifixion too, we are part of that picture. If we were out of the picture of the Crucifixion and of the Resurrection… Oh, my God, we would be in such a trouble. Our Salvation, our eternal life, our believing, our hope, our love – it’s all there – in the Cross and the Resurrection of Our Blessed Lord.
Let’s go back to our selfie. As you know it is a picture of yourself, which you take yourself, usually with something interesting in the background. Can a Christian take a selfie of him or her against the Cross of Jesus? In a selfie you turn your back to whatever or whoever is in the background. I can’t imagine a Christian taking a selfie with the Cross of Jesus because he or she should be so captivated, so drawn to the cross that what is important is to cling to the cross rather than to immortalize the moment. A selfie, a picture, simply captures a moment, it freezes the moment, even if it is important, but a second later the moment already belongs to the past, while Jesus’ cross and his glorious Resurrection aren’t events from the past they are still the gate to heaven, to our eternal life, to our bright future with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. A picture with the cross shouldn’t focus on me but on what the Lord Jesus has done for me through his death and Resurrection. It is a picture capturing me being drawn to the cross, a picture expressing my faith, my gratitude, my trust placed in the Lord.
Lately I have spoken to a woman whose husband is dying of cancer. She shared with me what she heard form a doctor in the hospital where her husband is. He said to her: “Don’t take all this cancer thing personally.” She said to me: “How can I not take it personally? It is my husband. The man I have lived with for thirty odd years. He is part of my life. What affects him affects me.”
My Dear Friends! The Lord Jesus says in the Gospel today: ”God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have an eternal life.” God took our human, sinful condition personally. Like that woman takes the illness of her husband personally. Our condition made God compassionate so much that he gave us his Son. That’s why we say that our believing is also personal, not private, but personal. Some people have been trying very hard to make us think that we should keep our faith private. Private is something that is for use by one person or group, not for everyone. Personal is what affects and involves you as a person, it is something that shapes who you are. That’s why we Christians say that our faith is personal, so no one can expect us to ignore our faith in various situations, decisions etc. Like no one can expect that woman to ignore the illness of her husband and move on with her life.
In our creed which we recite every Sunday we say: “I believe.” Faith is a personal act, believing involves every aspect of me. But believing is not an isolate act. “The life and death of each of us has its influence on others.” as we read in the Letter to Romans. Why I say “I believe” with conviction and involvement do you know what happens? I start hearing other people saying the same thing: “I believe.” I discover that my personal believing puts me in the picture with others who are drawn to the Cross and the Resurrection of the Lord.
A few days ago I have read an interview with the Archbishop of Mosul Amel Nona. It the city of Mosul in 2003 there were 100 thousand Christians today here is no even one left. I read also that for the first time in 2000 years there is no Mass celebrated in the city of Mosul. The archbishop lives now in exile with his people. He said that when he was leaving his cathedral he took a relict. It is a small silver cross. That’s what the bishop said: “This cross belonged to a 16 year old boy, Rami Katchik, who was killed a few hours after Pope Benedict announced my appointment as Archbishop of Mosul.” His predecessor Archbishop Paulos Faradż Rahho was killed too.
Pope Francis in his first homily said: “When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we confess Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: we are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.”
Let’s praise the Lord that there are still such disciples of the Lord that take their faith so personally that they choose exile or even death rather that to hide their believe behind the curtain of privacy.