REFLECTION FOR TODAY,
September 14, 2020
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“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.” John 3:14-15
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This is both profound, and humbling. For the cross, the ultimate sign of our faith and the means by which Christ saves us, is also a representation of the torturous method of execution that Christ underwent on our behalf. We hail not the death the cross inflicted, but the life which arose from it, making it holy and saving the world from sin and death. What a glorious feast we celebrate today!
What does the cross mean to us as Christians? Does it make sense? If we could separate ourselves from all we have learned about the Cross of Christ and just look at it from a secular and historical perspective, the Cross is a sign of great tragedy a sign of shame or rejection. It’s connected to the story of a man who became quite popular with many, yet was vehemently hated by others. In the end, those who hated this man arranged for His brutal crucifixion. So, from a purely secular point of view, the Cross is an awful thing.
But Christians do not see the Cross from a secular point of view. We see it from the divine perspective. We see Jesus lifted up on the Cross for all to see. We see Him using horrible suffering to eliminate suffering forever. We see Him using death to destroy death itself. Ultimately, we see Jesus become victorious on that Cross and, therefore, forever we see the Cross as an exalted and glorious throne!
Moses’ actions in the desert prefigured the Cross. Many people were dying from snake bites. Therefore, God told Moses to lift up the image of a snake on a pole so that all who looked upon it would be healed. And that’s exactly what happened. Ironically, the snake brought life instead of death!
Suffering occurs throughout our lives in various ways. Perhaps for some it’s daily aches and pains from ill health, and for others it may be on a much deeper level, such as an emotional, personal, relational or spiritual one. Sin, in fact, is the cause of the greatest suffering, so those who struggle deeply with sin in their lives suffer deeply from that sin.
So what is Jesus’ answer? His answer is to turn our gaze to His Cross. We are to look at Him in His misery and suffering and, in that gaze, we are called to see victory with faith. We are called to know that God brings good out of all things, even our suffering. The Father transformed the world eternally through the suffering and death of His only Son. He also wants to transform us in our crosses.
Reflect, today, upon the Cross of Christ. Spend some time gazing upon the crucifix. See in that crucifix the answer to your own daily struggles. Jesus is close to those who suffer, and His strength is available to all those who believe in Him.
Lord, help me to gaze upon the Cross. Help me to experience in Your own sufferings a taste of Your final victory. May I be strengthened and healed as I look upon You. Jesus, I trust in You.