Today, as we stand on the sacred grounds of Alam Udang Bum mountain in Myitkyina, it feels as though the entire city is ascending this spiritual peak. Despite the challenges and the pains that accompany such a journey, we find ourselves at different points along the path.
Some have reached the summit, others are still gazing upwards, and some have joined us in spirit, praying from afar.
This Cross mountain holds a profound significance, for Jesus, our Lord extends His hands to invite each of us to this holy place of healing, where we are cleansed of our sins through His precious blood and freed from our afflictions.
Your willingness to undertake this arduous journey is a testament to your response to His divine love. May your efforts be blessed, may the coming year shield you from all risks and perils, and may you return from this encounter, healed and whole.
Yes, the wounds of Jesus heal. St. Peter, in his first letter, speaks of the miraculous healing power found in the wounds of the crucified Jesus: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed.”
Let every soul that has ventured here seeking Jesus’ blessings return, having received the fullness of His healing grace.
Today, we find ourselves standing upon a mountain—a place of profound encounters with God in the pages of the Bible.
Seven significant moments are recorded in Scripture where mountains played a pivotal role in bringing humanity closer to the Divine.
On Mount Sinai, Moses encountered God as the liberator of suffering people. Mount Moriah witnessed God’s promise to Abraham and Isaac of a great nation.
Mount Horeb and Mount Carmel were places of encounter for Elijah, revealing God’s protective presence.
Mount Tabor was the site of Jesus’ transfiguration, and on Mount Olives, He offered His prayers.
Finally, the great Sermon on the Mount was delivered, and His crucifixion took place on Mount Calvary.
Today, as the Myitkyina family, we stand on this mountain on the feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross, seeking a real and transformative encounter with Jesus.
To truly grasp the significance of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, we must journey back in time to the early days of Christianity.
In the year 312 AD, the Roman Empire was in turmoil, and the fate of Christianity hung in the balance. Emperor Constantine faced the decisive Battle of Milvian Bridge.
Seeking divine guidance, Constantine experienced a vision of a cross in the sky with the words “In Hoc Signo Vinces” (In this sign, you shall conquer).
Inspired by this vision, he ordered the Christian symbol, the Chi-Rho, to be painted on the shields of his soldiers. Against all odds, Constantine’s forces emerged victorious, securing his position as Emperor.
This pivotal moment marked a turning point for Christianity, transitioning it from persecution to favor within the Roman Empire. Thus this day is also known as the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
Today, as we ascend this mountain, let us believe that the Cross will ultimately triumph. At its core, the Cross symbolizes the victory of love over evil and life over death.
The Cross serves as a bridge—Jesus constructed a bridge to God through His Cross, uniting humanity with the Father and heaven, reconciling our brokenness.
The Cross, with its vertical and horizontal beams, resembles a plus sign—a junction of God and human beings.
But what does the Cross signify for us, living here in Myitkyina?
Many of us look upon this land and believe that the Lord has bestowed His special care upon the Kachins, gifting resources both above and below the ground.
With its abundant resources, rivers, and precious stones, Myitkyina resembles a veritable Garden of Eden.
Yet, we have also endured the excruciating pain of the unending Way of the Cross in our individual lives and as a community for decades.
Our Garden of Eden has, at times, transformed into Mount Golgotha. Many among us bear the weight of five wounds—poverty, displacement, conflict, drugs, and the destruction of life.
What is the message of the Cross for each one of us? How can we find meaning in our own Way of the Cross? How can we bring the message of healing to ourselves and our community?
Humanity’s story began in the Garden of Eden with our first parents. Our redemption, however, unfolded on Mount Calvary.
In the Garden of Eden, a life brimming with grace was marred by the sin of Adam and Eve, who disobeyed by partaking in the Tree of Life.
Jesus, often referred to as the Second Adam, redeemed all of humanity through the Tree of the Cross. The first tree, the Tree of Life, brought death and damnation; the second tree, the Cross, brought life out of death, healing out of wounds, and reconciliation out of hatred.
In the tree in Eden the first parents sought power and destroyed themselves, in the second tree in Golgotha, Jesus redeemed with humility and Healing.
Thus, we stand here seeking healing—for personal wounds, historical wounds, wounds of injustice, and wounds of hatred. May the healing flow like a soothing stream from the Cross.
Today’s readings from the book of Numbers provide us with insight into the significance of the Cross.
In that passage, we encounter the Israelites in the desert. Despite being liberated from slavery in Egypt and witnessing God’s miraculous provision, they began to complain.
They grumbled about their journey, the food, and the hardships they faced. Suddenly, venomous snakes attacked them.
When they cried out for help, God instructed Moses to craft a bronze serpent and place it on a pole.
Those who gazed upon it were healed. This narrative foreshadows the Cross of Jesus. When we look up to the Cross, all our sins are forgiven and healed.
The second reading speaks of the profound humility of Jesus. Although of divine nature, He humbled Himself profoundly, taking on the form of a servant and surrendering Himself on the Cross.
He is our model. In these times of power struggles, even within families, let us take Jesus on the Cross as our model and His humility in service as our life’s motto.
The Gospel reveals a great truth: God never condemns us. Jesus tells Nicodemus that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal salvation. The Cross is our path to eternal life.
As we contemplate these Scriptures, let us remember that our faith is not a journey of perpetual suffering but a transformative journey—a journey from sin to salvation, from complaint to gratitude, and from self-centeredness to Christ-likeness.
Let us continually gaze upon the Cross, where Christ was lifted up for our redemption, and may our lives be a testament to His boundless grace and love.
I wish to impart a special message to the faithful of Myitkyina. Jesus delivered many sermons during His earthly ministry, and His Sermon on the Mount continues to inspire Christians and non-Christians alike. However, I would like to draw your attention to the Cross.
From the Cross, Jesus gave no sermon: On the Cross, Jesus was the sermon. His crucifixion was a profound display of the Father’s boundless love and the extraordinary surrender of His Son. When Jesus’ body was broken, and His blood poured out, it was an extraordinary manifestation of divine love for you and me, securing our eternal life.
The same hands that multiplied five loaves were nailed to the Cross, signifying that Jesus Himself became the bread of life, and the same hands that turned water into wine were nailed to the Cross, symbolizing that Jesus became the living blood that nourishes sinners.
The mouth that offered blessings was drenched in the blood of torment.
And yet, Jesus did speak on the Cross—His seven last words are renowned. Like the seven sacraments, these last words, spoken amidst pain and suffering, carried a profound message:
1. The first sentence exemplified boundless compassion as He forgave His enemies, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). At the pinnacle of His suffering, Jesus demonstrated divine forgiveness, by praying for those crucifying Him. His words remind us of the importance of forgiveness, even in the most arduous circumstances.
2. The second sentence offered hope of salvation, assuring the repentant thief beside Him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43). Jesus’ words reassure us that it is never too late to turn to God in faith and repentance, with a place in God’s eternal kingdom open to all who believe.
3. The third sentence, the most poignant of all, entrusted His mother to His disciple, saying, “Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27). In entrusting the care of His mother, Mary, to the beloved disciple John, Jesus emphasized the importance of love and community within the body of believers.
4. The fourth sentence was a cry of abandonment, as Jesus exclaimed with a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). In this heart-wrenching cry, Jesus expressed the depth of His separation from God as He bore the weight of our sins, reminding us of the immense sacrifice He made on our behalf.
5. The fifth sentence was a cry for justice, as He faced the wrath of the Roman Empire, which thirsted for power, while Jesus thirsted for peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness, saying, “I thirst.” (John 19:28). These simple words reveal Jesus’ humanity and His experience of physical suffering, carrying a deeper spiritual meaning, pointing to our spiritual thirst for God’s presence.
6. The sixth sentence, simple yet profound, signifies Jesus’ realization that faithfulness, not constant success, leads to ultimate salvation, as He declared, “It is finished.” (John 19:30). With this triumphant proclamation, Jesus announced the completion of His redemptive work on the Cross, securing our salvation through His finished work.
7. The ultimate surrender was witnessed as Jesus commended His spirit to the Father, saying, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46). In His final breath, Jesus entrusted His spirit to the Father’s care, teaching us to place our complete trust in God, even in the face of death.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the culmination of His earthly ministry on the Cross, Jesus left us with these seven last sentences, each carrying profound meaning and guidance for our lives. As we descend from this mountain, let us carry these seven profound teachings to transform our lives:
1. Reconciliation: Forgive and seek forgiveness; vengeance diminishes our humanity.
2. Salvation: Believe in the saving power of the Crucified Christ; the Cross is our path to salvation.
3. Community: Just as Jesus did not leave us alone, let us offer ourselves to one another and build our community with the love of Jesus.
4. Empathy: In a land marked by suffering, let us offer the gifts of empathy and mercy, understanding the pain of the abandoned.
5. Spiritual Thirst: Our origin and destiny lie in God; let us sustain a deep spiritual thirst for His presence.
6. Redemption: The Cross washes away every sin; focus on the extraordinary grace of redemption, not our sins.
7. Surrender: Surrender to an all-loving God removes uncertainty, and God becomes our only certainty, offering peace even in the face of death.
Let us carry these seven messages from Alam Bum mountain, touched by the great mystery of the Cross, back to our families. May they be blessed and healed of all wounds.
May our various Ways of the Cross culminate in the triumph of the Cross over evil and suffering.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Homily of Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar during the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on Alam Mountain in the Diocese of Myitkyina, Myanmar.