The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Feast of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross : Tuesday 14th September 2021
Num. 21:4-9 or Phil. 2:6-11;
Jn. 3:13-17 (Ps Wk IV)
Many of the early Christians did not have a positive image of the cross. It was a cruel and humiliating form of execution, and there was a great deal of shame attached to it. But John invites his readers to look beyond outward appearances. In a beautiful pun (only in the original Greek), one word means both exaltation and lifting up. In other words, what most people would view with horror is actually something glorious when seen through the eyes of God. It is all about love: Jesus came into the world not to condemn but to save — to offer us the cure for our ‘poison’ as expressed in the story from Numbers. He cures us of fear, selfishness, violence, and negativity that lead to spiritual death, and he offers us eternal life in its place.
All of this Jesus did willingly, and his motivation was compassion. He let go of everything; he even laid aside his divine privileges and became not only human but in the form of a slave. Because of his emptying of self, compassion, and obedience to God, he was exalted and given both power and honour. There is only one human sin: selfishness. There is only one cure: by giving of ourselves. By giving ourselves away, we do not lose anything but selfishness, and we will be spiritually empowered. Rather than an object of worship, the cross is a constant reminder of the life of Jesus — and the life we are to imitate — of loving and humble service to others. We, too, can be lifted up or exalted — we are given many opportunities each day.
Lord, help me to be a person for others.