Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
It is nothing short of amazing that some of the most often quoted and consoling words about God’s love in John 3:16 should be preceded by Jesus applying the lifting up of the bronze serpent to Himself. “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up…”(Jn 3:14) Should not the lifting up of the Son of Man be only an a affliction? Should not the sight of the Cross lifted high be a source of pain and sorrow, seeing the effects of sin on the One who so loved the world? The Cross would be the last thing we would lift up, if Jesus had not proclaimed the reason for such an exaltation: “so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him might have eternal life.” (Jn 3:14-15)
The Israelites were afflicted with seraph serpents because they forgot the one who gave them strength, and let their patience be “worn out by their journey.”(Nm 21:4) Complaining against God and Moses because of the trials of the desert, their healing only came about when they finally faced what they took as something which would bring them only pain. Rather than seeking the comforts of Egypt, they learned not to fear their struggles, and returned to the Lord. In the lifting up of the Cross we are taught by Christ’s humility and obedience to embrace our trials. In the company of the One who is always with us, we no longer need to feel as though our patience is worn out by our journey. The goal of our journey accompanies us, and after the Cross, He promises the gift of eternal life.