“As Moses lifted the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted.” (John 3:14)
Today, we celebrate the feast of the exaltation of the Holy Cross upon which Jesus Christ died for our salvation. We celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death. Just as a tree was the source of humanity’s downfall in the Garden of Eden, a tree (the cross) was the object upon which Christ redeemed humanity. When Jesus carried the cross, he corrected the mistake of Adam. The tree, a symbol of death for Adam, has now become a symbol of life for humanity.
When the Israelites sinned in the wilderness, God’s anger blazed upon them, and fiery serpents bit the people. They cried for mercy, and God instructed Moses to set up a bronze serpent so that anyone who looked at it would be healed. Was this a violation of the First Commandment? Did the children of Israel become idol worshippers by looking at the bronze serpent?
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus explains that the bronze serpent symbolises the cross upon which he would be lifted. When we look at the Cross with faith, we receive healing from the bites of the physical and spiritual fiery serpents around us.
It is one thing to notice the presence of the Cross in a Church, on the wall, or in your home, but a different thing to look at it with devotion. Meditate on the Cross; recall the passion of Jesus Christ. Place yourself in the crowd standing at the Cross’s feet on Good Friday. Ask God for pardon for your sins. Beg Jesus to remember you like that thief who was crucified beside Jesus.
Today’s feast began with discovering the Holy Cross of Jesus Christ around the area where Jesus was crucified. In identifying this particular cross, a sick man received instant healing when placed on it. Why is the cross so powerful? 1. It symbolises the Trinity. 2. It is the object upon which Jesus Christ defeated the devil. 3. On the cross, Jesus asked pardon for our sins. 4. On the Cross, Jesus said: “It is finished.”
We celebrate the Cross of Jesus Christ today and the various crosses we bear as Christians. In the Beatitudes, Jesus told us to “rejoice and be glad” when we are persecuted, insulted, excluded, oppressed or denied our rights for His Sake. This is what we are doing today – rejoicing in our sufferings, knowing that for every pain we endure, a crown awaits us in heaven.
Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, I take up my cross again, see me through as I carry it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Numbers 21:4-9, Ps. 78:1-2,34-38, John 3:13-17).
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu