“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15)
Today we celebrate the cross not as a crude element of murder, but as the object of the victory of Christ over death. Just as a tree was the source of man’s downfall, it became necessary that when God was restoring man to Himself in Christ; correcting the error of the first man, a tree would again play a vital role. The object of sin becomes the object of redemption.
Again, as Jesus said in our Gospel passage today, what Moses did in the wilderness foreshadows the cross of Calvary. Just as the people looked up at the serpent for healing, so also we look up at the Cross of Jesus for healing.
This feast we celebrate today has its origins in the discovery of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. From that moment, the cross was no longer treated as an object of shame and disgrace, but as a sacred object. When I sit down to look at the Crucifix, I noticed certain details:
One, the size of the cross compared to the size of Christ hanging on it. It dawned on me that our crosses are always going to be bigger than us. Two, the look on Jesus’ face; the fact that he wasn’t frowning. I got the message that we can only carry our cross with hearts free of bitterness. Not even those killing us deserve our anger.
Three, the people at the foot of the cross. While the crowd jeered and mocked, soldiers did their job, Jews supervised, Mary the Mother of Jesus was there supporting her son with a loving maternal gaze. It dawned on me that when we suffer, the crowd will never support us, but one person we can always trust to be on our side is Mary, the Mother of God.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, thank you for the healing power of your Cross, teach me to value it and to value the crosses I bear daily for your sake, Amen.
Bible Study: Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 78 and John 3:13-17).