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Archbishop Jason Gordon preaches the homily at Holy Cross Chapel. Photo: Gerard-Paul Wanliss.

By Kaelanne Jordan,

To be a real man is to understand that pain and suffering is integral to life. A “real man”, Jesus Christ sacrificed himself and took the worst form of pain and torture for all. “This is what real manhood looks like, “Archbishop Jason Gordon said.

“It is always sacrificial; it is always giving; it is always caring and loving. It is always giving itself for the sake of other people. Little boys try to get everything for themselves and pay no price for it. And that’s the difference between manhood and boyhood,” the Archbishop said in his homily for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross at the Holy Cross Chapel, Arima, September 14.

The congregation comprised staff and students of Holy Cross College, Dominican Sisters and other faithful. Dominican priests Frs Ferdinand Warner, Carlyle Fortune and Urban Hudlin concelebrated the Mass.

The Archbishop, in chastising the pursuit of “maximum pleasure; minimum pain” said that this experience does not allow for boys to mature. He then reminded the faithful of God’s order to Abraham to circumcise all boys. The purpose of this covenant, he explained represents the painful trials all must experience for the sake of God.

To this end, Archbishop Gordon affirmed that Catholicism is a religion of real men. He said that saints too, notably St Dominic, are considered real men since they all gave up worldly pleasures to be of service to the world and Church.

Without the cross—the central symbol of all Christianity, there will be no salvation, forgiveness of sins and the Eucharist will be “void and empty”.

The Archbishop observed that to some, the cross is symbolic of an ornament, to the lawmen a symbol of horror and one of the most brutal forms of torture. However, he reminded those gathered, that it is a sign of His love.

“Sometimes we think all this religion thing is alright…because it boring, it uninteresting….But if we understand the mystery that we celebrate every time we come to the Eucharist, it could never be dull and boring.”

He continued, “Because the mystery we celebrate is the God who gave himself for us. Allowing himself to be subjected to the most brutal torture, the worse pain possible….so we can know what true love is.”

The Archbishop commented on the First Reading (Num 21:4–9) of the fiery serpents. He posed the question ‘What’s the fiery serpent in your life?”.

Archbishop Gordon explained that the fiery serpent is the “thing” that when it bites, it hurts: “that thing that you keep doing that you know [is] wrong, that causes death to you and to your soul and to other people.”

The fiery serpent, he also observed, is against sacrifice, discipline and what it means to be a real man. On the other hand, the Archbishop urged the congregation to “lift up” their individual fiery serpents to God as it will no longer have power over us.

He then called for Christians to become conscious and “name” their fiery serpents in their lives and choose to walk the way of the cross.