SEPTEMBER 14. Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Jn 3. 13-17
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.’
Nicodemus was a leader of the Jews who had come to Jesus at night to testify to his belief Jesus was a “teacher who had come from God,” to which Jesus replied; - “unless a man is born again, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God”; - a statement which caused Nicodemus to ask, “how can this be?” – with today’s gospel being Jesus reply to this reasonable question.
His reply makes it clear the Kingdom of Heaven was closed to mankind; - a truth we need to reflect on from time to time; - as this was the reason the Second Person of the Trinity became man; - “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven; - the Son of Man who is in heaven!’
He then goes on to make a direct; - but hidden; - reference to his need to sacrifice his life on a Cross; - “The Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert; - so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him!”
Then we are given the divine motive for Christ embracing his cross, namely love of his people despite their sinful status; - “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son; - so everyone who believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life!
This is a powerful message Christians need to ponder; - that God would send his only Son to die on a Cross; - in order to make divine atonement for the sins of mankind; - with no benefit at all to the Trinity; - except satisfaction of a divine desire to redeem the people who offended him; - and have them live with him for eternity!
This is why, when we ponder the mystery of the Cross; - while we need to acknowledge the suffering involved; - we need to acknowledge equally Christ’s crucifixion as a symbol of God’s Love for his people; -and his desire to redeem them from the power of Satan.
Saint Paul addressed this point well when writing to Timothy when he said: “Here is a saying you can rely on; - and nobody should doubt; - Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I myself am the greatest of them; - and if mercy has been shown to me, it is because Jesus Christ meant to make me the greatest evidence of his inexhaustible patience for all the people who would later have to trust in him (in his merciful love) to come to eternal life!”
Without the cross God could not show mercy; - so Calvary enabled merciful love for sinners!
We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you,
because by your cross you have redeemed the world.
First reading Philippians 2:6-11 · Christ humbled himself but God raised him high
His state was divine,
yet Christ Jesus did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave
and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings
in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.