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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

September 14th: Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
1st Reading (Num 21:4b-9): With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, «Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!». In punishment the Lord sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. Then the people came to Moses and said, «We have sinned in complaining against the Lord and you. Pray the Lord to take the serpents from us». So Moses prayed for the people, and the Lord said to Moses, «Make a serpent and mount it on a pole, and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live». Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
Responsorial Psalm: 77
R/. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Hearken, my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter mysteries from of old.

While he slew them they sought him and inquired after God again, remembering that God was their rock and the Most High God, their redeemer.

But they flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues, though their hearts were not steadfast toward him, nor were they faithful to his covenant.

But he, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not; often he turned back his anger and let none of his wrath be roused.
2nd Reading (Phil 2:6-11): Brothers and sisters: Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Versicle before the Gospel (---): We adore you, o Christ, and we bless you, because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.
Gospel text (Jn 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.

"So that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life"

Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench (Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel is a prophecy, that is, a glance into the mirror of reality that plunges us into its truth, far beyond what our own senses tell us: the Cross, the Holy Cross of Jesus Christ is the Savior's Throne. That is why Jesus asserts, “So must the Son of Man be lifted up” (Jn 3:14).

We do know the Cross was the most ignominious and heinous torture of its time. To exalt the Holy Cross would therefore be some sort of cynical joke, were it not for the crucified Christ hanging on it. The cross, without the Redeemer, is sheer cynicism; but with the Son of man the Cross is the new tree of Wisdom. By “freely submitting Himself to the passion” of the Cross, Jesus Christ has opened the substance and purpose for our lives: to be lifted up with Him to the Holy Cross to fling open our arms and our heart to God's heavenly gift, in an admirable exchange. Here too, we must listen to the Father's voice that came from the heavens: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mk 1:11). To be crucified with Jesus and resurrect with Him: that is the reason for it all! There is hope, there is a meaning, and there is life! We are not mad when, we Christians, during the Paschal Vigil, in a most solemn way, that is, in the Easter Proclamation, sing a hymn of praise to the original sin: “O happy fault! O necessary fault of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!” who, through his pain has infused a new “significance” to pain.

“See the tree of the cross, where the Savior of the world was crucified: come and venerate it” (Good Friday Liturgy). If we manage to overcome the scandal and insanity of Christ crucified there is nothing else for us to do but to worship Him and be grateful for His Gift. And to decidedly seek the Holy Cross in our own life, to fill us up with the certainty that, “through Him, with Him and in Him”, our offering will be transformed, in the hands of the Father, for the Holy Spirit, in eternal life: “Shed for you and for all men for the remission of sins.”

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • "Wherever there is a Christian striving to lead an honorable life, he should, with his love, set up the Cross of Christ, who attracts all things to Himself" (Saint Josemaría)

  • "There is no Christianity without the Cross, and there is no Cross without Jesus Christ. Therefore, a Christian who is not able to glory in Christ Crucified has not understood what it means to be Christian" (Francis)

  • "The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Savior's steps. the stations from the Praetorium to Golgotha and the tomb trace the way of Jesus, who by his holy Cross has redeemed the world." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no 2669)