Fri, September 14, 2018 - The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
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.
One's worldview is influenced, among other things, by the way one relates to the world. Maybe we are aware of the impact of ideas which inform our minds and thus shape our worldview, but do we appreciate the power of the rhythm of our daily life? Our contact with the world through our work, through the normal busyness, and all the worldly affairs silently shapes our minds and hearts. Regardless of all our convictions or ideas, we can become "worldly" without realising it if we reduce our daily relationship to the world to mundane things only. What can we do about that, considering that we must live in the world without being of the world?
What does "worldly" even mean in this context? A "worldly worldview" is a purely horizontal worldview; it lacks the vertical dimension: God, His presence in the world, His power and love, and all things supernatural. A horizontal worldview overlooks the spiritual realities, doubts the divine presence, challenges the adherence to Revelation. The more engulfed you are in every-day life, the more horizontal your outlook becomes. Faith becomes difficult, prayer gets dry, Jesus all of the sudden seems like a mythical figure.
Jesus' outlook on the world penetrates this worldly view and transforms it from within. By entering the material history, He introduces the spiritual and divine presence into the daily life. His life draws a vertical line which crosses our horizontal view.
This is the worldview which He offers us, and this is the message He delivered. As a matter of fact, with His incredibly rich words, Our Lord draws one vertical line after the other in today's gospel; lines whose arrowheads either point from heaven down to earth, or the other way round upwards. Hereby, Jesus sets the scene for every argument regarding the Christian life: He affirms a true and real connection between God and man, between heaven and earth, between eternity and time. This connection, this two-sided relationship, is what Christ came to reveal to the fullest. This vertical relationship is what He wants to renew in us in the midst of our worldly affairs. If you don't believe that, if you can't even consider within the realm of the possible a personal God engaging with you directly: how will you comprehend what Christians believe and do?
Our Lord offered a new dimension to Nicodemus’ faith by depicting these vertical lines christologically, meaning that He presented Himself as the incarnate love between God and Man who will save the world. Thus, the bottom line of believing in a personal God quickly evolves into the faith in Jesus as the Son of God. This is the bottom line that the Gospel presents to us today. Jesus established His Church as His presence in our daily life. The Church is God's presence in our world. Like the cross, the Church unites the horizontal and the vertical dimension into one reality. The Church harbors all the human aspects you can think of; but you can find in Her also all the divine aspects with which Jesus wished to connect us with His Father. Go to Church. Come into God's presence. Make room for the vertical dimension of your life.