September 14, 2016
(Exaltation of the Holy Cross)
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Jn_3:13-17
From our very first breath to our last, our lives are filled with signs. Some of those signs are pretty easy to interpret, like the sign of a smile, that usually means a happy person. It’s a sign that immediately brings a reciprocal smile back from anyone who sees it. And it’s a sign that transcends all languages and cultures, and is even understood by the tiniest of infants.
And then there are other signs that could take a lifetime to understand, like the Sign of a Cross that we see and gesture all the time. It’s a sign that could, so easily, be misconstrued, as some people wear that Cross as a good luck charm, expecting it to give them some mystical, magical powers. And others gesture the Sign of the Cross, without even thinking about its meaning, which actually does have the power to transform our hearts and our minds.
Today the Church commemorates the Cross: a sign of brutal torture, suffering and death. And yet, it’s a sign of the loving sacrifice of God for us, a sign of example for us to follow, in our Love for one another.
St. Paul gives us a very concise picture of that Sacrificial Love, as he describes Jesus “emptying himself” in obedience to His Father; which was just the opposite of what the Israelites did after God had saved them from slavery in Egypt. Instead of humbly accepting minor inconveniences in grateful thanksgiving to God, the Israelites grumbled about the food. They grumbled about the desert. And they grumbled about Moses, who led them to that freedom.
And so, God gave those Israelites a sign to remind them of His constant presence among them. It was a sign to look up to. It was a sign, that, to this day, still represents the healing of our medical industry – healing, of course, that’s only possible through God.
Jesus then equates the life-saving healing of Moses’ Nehushtan, or “snake on a pole,” to the salvation of ALL mankind, by His being lifted up on a Cross.
So beyond the Sacrificial Death, beyond the Suffering of Jesus’ passion, in that sign of the Cross we see God’s unfathomable Love. We see the emptying of all of our grumbling and complaint. We see our call to give, even if it hurts. And we see the eternal reward of
our Faith, of our belief in Jesus.
When the world around us, all seems to be falling apart, when we don’t think we can handle the pain of this life any longer, that’s when we look up to the Holy Cross of Jesus.
And we remember that Hope of Eternal Life, and the Healing Love of God
for all of us, His Children.
St. Helena . . .
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