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Homilies

 

 

14 September 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 15-09-2014

This feast seems to be the anniversary of the dedication of the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem built by the Emperor Constantine during the fourth century. It covered the area of Calvary and also the tomb in which Our Lord was buried and from which he rose from death. There is a church still standing on the site but the original building was long ago destroyed.

The cross is the great Christian symbol and Calvary is brought to mind here at Mass through the sacramental re-presentation of Our Lord’s death, ‘This is my body, given for you... my blood shed for you.

The cross is relevant today, Racial Justice Sunday.  During the week we celebrated the feast of St Peter Claver.  He was a Spanish Jesuit who went as a missionary to South America devoting himself to the care of the slaves brought from Africa to be landed at Cartagena in conditions so horrific that that on average a third of them died during the passage. Some of those who profited by the slave trade defended what they did by claiming that the black people were not even human, they had no souls. Wishful thinking. For Peter Claver they were not only human  but they were to be esteemed and reverenced because they had a value that transcended any human measure - for them Christ had died - they were worth the death of Christ - their value shot off any human scale - the cross was the symbol of how precious they were in the sight of God.

Peter Claver was, in our terms, an Elizabethan. Here we are, four hundred years later, in the reign of Elizabeth II, and we are still fighting racial prejudice. If we are conscious of prejudice we need to recall the cross and recognise that every living human person shares with us not only the dignity of individual creation by God but the estimate put on our value by the cross of Christ.     

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