Matthew 18:21-35
September 10, 2020
Message 0027
September 11, 2020

John 3:13-17 Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
Numbers 21:4-9
Philippians 2:6-11
John 3:13-17

A. Text/Context

  • The gospel today speaks to us of the theology of the cross whose triumph or exaltation has made possible the salvation of all humanity. What did Jesus say to Nicodemus?
  • Just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the desert so must the son of man be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. What does it mean?
  • The lifting up of Jesus means that he is mounted to the cross where his hands and feet are pierced by the rough nails and that is where the horrible episode of the crucifixion has taken place on the cross
  • The lifting up of Jesus means his pains and sufferings in the crucifixion on the cross, his death on the cross, and his resurrection after his death on the cross followed by his ascension into heaven
  • In short it is the victory of Jesus over death or the triumph of the cross or the exaltation of the cross
  • That is why the cross is a very powerful symbol of our Christian faith so that even the bad spirits are so scared of it
  • The Roman government during the time of Jesus used to practice crucifixion as a form of punishment for the criminals
  • At that time, the cross has no meaning as it is just a symbol of horror for all criminals
  • The cross has become very essential in the physical aspect of the Christian faith not only as Catholics but to the Protestants as well
  • That is why we see the sign of the cross everywhere: in the church, cemetery, home, offices, classrooms, even in commuter buses and jeeps, and private cars
  • We may not be aware about the purpose behind but it is because of the cross that redemption became possible
  • In the Book of Numbers in the first reading, the people were bitten by poisonous snakes known as seraph and many of them died
  • But those who were bitten and who looked at the bronze serpent mounted on a wooden stick were spared they did not die
  • On one hand, the Israelites were saved by looking at the bronze serpent at the tip of the wooden stick. And they received life
  • It is very interesting to note that even in mythology, the staff of the god Aesculapius with a swirling serpent on it is also used until today as a symbol of medicine
  • We also rely on the science of medicine for the healing of our sickness
  • On the other hand, all of humanity was saved from death, from the pit of destruction as they look at Jesus who died on the cross in order to save us
  • Because of Jesus who suffered in the wooden cross, died on it, and resurrected from his death and ascended to the Father, we received eternal life
  • Why did God offer us eternal life? Jesus gives the answer in his words to Nicodemus: the very famous passage in the gospel of John 3:16 For God so loved the world…
  • Yes it is love. It is because of God’s tremendous love for us. It is because of the immense love of God for us that he gave the offer of eternal life

B. Human Situation

  • This is now the significance of the lessons of Jesus given to Nicodemus in the gospel today as well as the celebration of the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross in our life as Christians? God gave us the offer of eternal life
  • An offer, remember, it is an offer and that means it is up to us to accept it. We either accept or reject his offer
  • So there is a condition, there is a role or a part that we have to do or exert and that is to do what Jesus has taught us
  • Salvation is free because Jesus died for all of us and we are redeemed from our sins
  • At the same time while salvation is free it is also not totally free because we need to look at Jesus first on the cross with faith and resolve ourselves to follow his teachings
  • If we have done wrong to one neighbor and he has forgiven you, but another neighbor has done wrong to us and we have not forgiven him even with repeated apologies, it does not seem to fit the teachings of our Lord
  • Jesus gives us salvation for free but our stubbornness of not forgiving those who wronged us is an act of refusal to be saved
  • That is why salvation is free but there are obligations that we have to fulfill in order for salvation to come freely
  • We refuse to forgive others, we deny others our charity, we fail to love others then we do not appreciate the salvation that Jesus offers. We need to do our part

C. Challenge

  • This is the challenge that the gospel and the celebration of the triumph of the cross bring us today
  • It happens in our lives that we already do what God wants us to do but the people around seems to be so callous and unresponsive
  • We show good examples, they do not appreciate; we have forgiven their wrongdoings, they abuse you
  • Do not be disheartened because you have already done your part. We have become a candidate for salvation. If the others have not done their part, that is their choice
  • We are reminded today that salvation is really in our own hands because God gives us the offer: the offer of salvation
  • We have the freedom to accept or reject the offer. But if Jesus has chosen to carry his cross, we need to share also the burden of carrying the cross as we face the painful realities of life
  • One requirement for salvation is that we must also carry our own cross just like what Jesus did
  • Let us carry our cross with joy as we are sure that salvation will certainly follow
  • You see there will always be a heavy cross to carry, but one thing that we can be sure of, is that it will not be permanent
  • By carrying the cross joyfully we will all triumph even in the most formidable evil that besets us

 

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