Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Father Patrick Butler, LC
John 3: 13-17
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.” 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.
Introductory Prayer: Your word in the Gospel reveals to me the beauty of the mystery of the Cross. I open myself now to you with a believing heart. Your love for humanity is so present in what you say. You give me hope that the world can be changed by your message of love. I want to be more like you, a lover of the Father, a lover of my brothers and sisters to the point of giving my life for them.
Petition: Lord, exalt the cross in my mind and my heart, that I might see it as an instrument of love.
1. Jesus’ Identity: Nicodemus comes to Jesus to find out who this miracle worker is. Jesus tells him that he is the Son of Man and God’s Son. He has come down from heaven and will return there. Now that he has identified himself, he has gotten Nicodemus’ attention and mine. His answer to the first question does not satisfy us because it has brought up several other questions. How can he claim to be the Son of God when there is but one God? If he is truly God’s Son, why has he come down to earth? What does he want or expect from me?
2. A Savior Greater Than Moses: Moses had, at God’s command, led Israel out of slavery in Egypt. When the people rebelled in the desert, they were punished by fiery serpents that bit them with poisonous venom. Moses intervened on their behalf, making a bronze image of a serpent, placed on a post; those who looked at it were saved. Jesus saves humanity from its rebellion, not by a symbol raised on a stick, but by sacrificing himself as he was raised on a cross. He saves me not from temporal death, but from eternal death. He is indeed a Savior greater than Moses.
3. The Degree of God’s Love: How much does the Father love me? If we could measure love on a thermometer, God’s infinite love would send the mercury out the end. His love is boundless. What would he withhold from me if he has already given his son to save me? My sentiments upon contemplating the immensity of God’s love for me should be gratitude, praise and a reciprocating love towards him.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I am moved when I discover how much you love me. You came down from heaven, becoming the Son of Man so that I could know, love and imitate you. You loved me to the extreme of offering yourself up on the cross to save me from sin and death. I want to love you in return to the point of giving my life for you.
Resolution: I will contemplate the cross as a symbol of love, making it a symbol that says something to me whenever I see it. I will try to bear my cross today with love.