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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Reflection 2020-09-14 – Exaltation of the Cross

Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 78; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17
The Second Reading speaks of the total surrender of Jesus to the Father. He did not deem equality with God something to be exploited. Jesus voluntarily descended from heaven, to be with us, taking the form of a slave, suffering even death on the cross. By taking on this death, Jesus takes on all the effects of sin and raises it on the Cross. In the Gospel, Jesus said just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Jesus refers to the incident in the First Reading that narrate how Israel spoke against God and against Moses in the desert and God sent poisonous serpents among the people. Those they bit died. After they repented, God then told Moses to fashion a poisonous snake and set it on a pole and those who are bitten and looked at it will live.
What is the significance of looking at the snake and looking at the Cross. The snake was the cause of the death of the Israelites. By looking at the cause of their death, they live. Since Jesus takes on the effects of sin on the Cross, when we look at the effects of what causes our death, sin, we will also have life. Looking at our sins and turning back from it is repentance. It is only when we repent that we will have life.
Our life in Christ is not always an emotional high. We have life in Christ only when we pass through the suffering, and these sufferings must be in Christ. We do not go around looking for suffering or pain in life. Instead, we accept whatever comes our way when we live according to the Gospel. Jesus said in the Gospel, whoever wants to come after me, must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. There is no escaping the Cross for a Christian. Anyone who preaches otherwise is preaching a false gospel. We cannot avoid the Cross, because it is only through the Cross of Christ that we gain victory and we gain life.
The Second Reading tells us, Jesus died on the Cross, so God gave him the name above every other name. When we share in the suffering of Christ, when we die with him on the Cross, we will also share in the victory that comes from that name. We will also gain the crown of life because Jesus is the Lord of Life. He is risen and gives new life. Every knee should bend … and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The Father gives Jesus this honor and power because he trusted in the Father by going through death so that the Father can raise him from the dead.
There is redemption. Jesus said God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Do not think there is no salvation for you because of your past. Jesus does not condemn you. Instead, he comes to save you in whatever situation you have right now. Are you living in sin and do not know how to get out of it? Are you living in a situation that seems hopeless? Are you living a life with no future? Take courage, Jesus is here. Look at the Cross, and see what Jesus did to give you his life. Come to Jesus and be raised up again and have new life.
Lord, I am here, suffering and confused. I offer them to you. Lead me through the suffering, the chaos, the confusion and fear into the Cross, so I may come out victorious with new life.

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