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Liturgical day: September 14th: The Exaltation of the 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.
Verscicle 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 ever gone up to heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through him the world is to be saved».

«So that whoever believes in him may 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 in its truth, far beyond what our own senses tell us: the Cross, the Holy Cross of Jesus Christ is the Saviour's Throne. That is why Jesus asserts, «the Son of man must 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, was it not because the Crucified is 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 Saviour 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 donation will be transformed, in the hands of the Father, for the Holy Spirit, in eternal life: «Shed for you and for many in the remission of sins».