24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 14/9/2014 - Gospel: Jn 3: 13-17
The paradox of the cross
Jesus carried the cross and He asked us to carry our own daily to follow. The cross means different things for different people. The weight of the cross is a mysterious one because it isn't the mass of the cross that causes problems but it is the reception in our mind and the reception of our mind is driven by faith in God. It is measured in proportion of our faith: if we have strong faith the cross is light and if our faith is weak the cross becomes a heavy burden. Sometimes it is a struggle for those who accept the cross as a part of their daily life but somehow it is within their capacity; but for those who deny the cross it then becomes a real heavy load that weighs them down. 

Furthermore for a person who has no faith in Jesus the cross is simply the symbol of a horrible and violent death. It is the form of the capital punishment of His time. For a person who has faith in Jesus the cross is the sign of victory and of the triumph of Jesus and of His followers. After the crucifixion the soldiers were looking at the cross and jeered Jesus. While the apostles of Jesus were in hiding behind closed doors for fear of being arrested by the authorities; the opponents of Jesus were behind closed doors celebrating their victory. Their victorious celebration doesn't last long, simply three days after the crucifixion and they received news with great consternation and in confusion because the very Jesus they nailed on the cross had died and now had came back to life, present amongst His apostles.  Jesus came to tell them 'fear not' but rejoice. Jesus claims the victory, evil spirit has been defeated and death from now on lost its power forever. Jesus claimed His new life and that He will never die again.

In the Old Testament the evil spirit was in the form of the serpent that once used the forbidden fruit of the tree to claim their victory when they tempted a human being to disobey God. In the New Testament Jesus was totally obeyed the Father and was willing to carry the tree of death. His resurrection from the death gave the tree of death a new name. Its new name became the tree of life. Jesus used the tree of the cross to overpower the tree of death and freed mankind from the bondage of sin and death and gave them eternal life.

Looking at Jesus on the cross with the hands out stretched and we can see it as the sign of surrender. Jesus surrendered His own will and obeyed the Father to carry out God's will to save mankind. Through the tree of life Jesus saved us from disobedience to obedience, from eternal damnation to eternal life, from being lost to be found and free from the power of darkness to enjoy eternal light.

The position of hands out stretched standing can be understood as the sign of gathering or the collect as we now invite the faithful to be ready for the opening prayer at our Eucharistic celebration. Jesus was on the cross with hands outstretched to gather, to collect and to bring us together to be one sheepfold, under His banner, the banner of the victorious cross.