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Sunday before the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Byzantine Catholic Homilies  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Paul was concerned that anything, even Judaism, would detract from Jesus and John speaks of Jesus as the summation of the love of God and of release from evil. Let us not let any ideology separate us from or detract from Jesus.

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Ambon Prayer 45
Postfestive Day of the Birth of the Theotokos; Our Venerable Mother Theodora of Alexandria. Also St Autonomous.
Dismissal “May Christ our true God, risen from the dead, have mercy on us and save us, through the prayers of his most pure Mother, who Nativity we gloriously celebrate today . . .”

Title

Christ the Center

Outline

Paul was driven to necessity by his concern

Apparently no scribe was available to help him
He was no scribe, but he laboriously wrote at least the end of Galatians in large letters, either because of his lack of training or his poor eyesight or both. He was that concerned

Paul’s concern was that something would be substituted for Christ

In Galatia it was apparently Jewish identity, symbolized in circumcision, so that they would be identified as Jews rather than Christians. It was not really about the Torah, but “in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.”
Paul found his honor in the dishonor of Christ: “far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” He held up the cross front and center.
Those who joined him in this he blessed: “Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.” They were the true Israel, for Abraham is the father of all who believe in Jesus.

That is also the concern of John

Jesus is the core revelation of God, the only voice from heaven: “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.”
Jesus crucified and risen is the only way to salvation, to deliverance, “that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
Jesus is the true expression of the love of God, who is love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus is release from guilt, self-doubt, and bondage: “God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

Brothers and Sisters, Jesus must remain our center

There are many ideologies in the world that claim to be a way to freedom: Abigail Favale in The Genesis of Gender writes about her being captured by feminist ideology and that in essence replacing Jesus until she re-centered on Jesus as she turned to the Catholic Church. Kristen du Merz in Jesus and John Wayne writes about the capture of the evangelical mind by - in this case - right wing ideologies of Christian nationalism and the like in the 20th and 21st century. She found freedom in Jesus. In Germany it was Aryan supremacy and the Fatherland. I have known Christians who were captured by Judaism and were circumcised and focused on it rather than Jesus. The list is very long, for the devil wants anything but Jesus and him crucified.
Keep centered on Jesus and going deeper into Jesus. We have celebrated the birth of Mary this week: remember that she did not look back from Jesus, but focused on her son and followed him to the cross and through the cross to the resurrection.
That is the message of our readings: anything that takes attention from or remakes Jesus is a return to bondage - keep focused on Jesus.

Readings

Byzantine Lectionary (Revised Julian) 9-11-2022: Sunday before Holy Cross

EPISTLE

Galatians 6:11–18

11  See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16  Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.

17 Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.

Byzantine Lectionary (Revised Julian) 9-11-2022: Sunday before Holy Cross

GOSPEL

John 3:13–17

13  No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 14  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

16  For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17  For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Notes

Byzantine Lectionary (Revised Julian) 9-11-2022: Sunday before Holy Cross

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2022 | ELEVATION OF THE HOLY CROSS

Byzantine Lectionary (Revised Julian) 9-11-2022: Sunday before Holy Cross

SUNDAY BEFORE HOLY CROSS

Epistle Galatians 6:11–18

Gospel John 3:13–17

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