NUMBERS 21: 4b – 9
In those days: The people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many sons of Israel died. And the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it up as a sign; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it up as a sign; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 78: 1 – 2, 34 – 38 (R.) 7b
R. Never forget the deeds of the Lord!
Give ear, my people, to my teaching;
incline your ear to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable
And utter hidden lessons of the past. R.
When he slew them, then they sought him,
repented and earnestly sought God.
They would remember that God was their rock,
God the Most High their redeemer. R.
Yet they deceived him with their mouths;
they lied to him with their tongues.
For their hearts were not steadfast towards him;
They were not faithful to his covenant. R.
Yet he who is full of compassion
Forgave them their sin and spared them.
So often he held back his anger,
and did not stir up all his rage. R.
PHILIPPIANS 2: 6 – 11
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Word of the Lord.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.
JOHN 3: 13 – 17
At that time: Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that who ever believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
The Gospel of the Lord.
REFLECTION: The Transforming Power of the Cross
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16–17)
If Jesus would never have given His life on a cross for the salvation of the world, then a cross would never have been seen in “exultation.” A cross, in and of itself, is an instrument of death, a horrific and violent death. It’s also an instrument of humiliation and torture. Yet, today, the Cross is seen as a holy and blessed object. We hang crosses in our homes, wear them around our neck, keep them in our pocket on the end of the rosary, and spend time in prayer before them. The Cross is now an exalted image by which we turn to God in prayer and surrender. But that is only the case because it was on a cross that we were saved and brought to eternal life.
If you step back and consider the amazing truth that one of the worst instruments of torture and death is now seen as one of the holiest of images on earth, it should be awe inspiring. Comprehending this fact should lead us to the realization that God can do anything and everything. God can use the worst and transform it into the best. He can use death to bring forth life.
Though our celebration today, the “Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross,” is first and foremost a feast by which we give glory to the Father for what He did in the Person of His divine Son, it is also a feast by which we must humbly understand that God can “exalt” every cross we endure in life and bring forth much grace through them.
What is your heaviest cross? What is the source of your greatest suffering? Most likely, as you call this to mind, it is painful to you. Most often, our crosses and sufferings are things we seek to rid ourselves of. We easily point to crosses in life and blame them for a lack of happiness. We can easily think that if only this or that were to change or be removed, then our life would be better. So what is that cross in your life?
The truth is that whatever your heaviest cross is, there is extraordinary potential for that cross to become an actual source of grace in your life and in the world. But this is only possible if you embrace that cross in faith and hope so that our Lord can unite it to His and so that your crosses can also share in the exaltation of Christ’s Cross. Though this is a profoundly deep mystery of faith, it is also a profoundly deep truth of our faith.
Reflect, today, upon your own crosses. As you do, try not to see them as a burden. Instead, realize the potential within those crosses. Prayerfully look at your crosses as invitations to share in Christ’s Cross. Say “Yes” to your crosses. Choose them freely. Unite them to Christ’s Cross. As you do, have hope that God’s glory will come forth in your life and in the world through your free embrace of them. Know that these “burdens” will be transformed and become a source of exaltation in your life by the transforming power of God.
My exalted Lord, I turn to You in my need and with the utmost faith in Your divine power to save. Please give me the grace I need to fully embrace every cross in my life with hope and faith in You. Please transform my crosses so that You will be exalted through them and so that they will become an instrument of Your glory and grace. Jesus, I trust in You.