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Doctrines & Morals

The Triumph of the Holy Cross

Num. 21:4-9, Phil. 2:6-11, Jn 3:13-17. Paradoxically, Christians affirm their passion for life under the sign of the Cross, which in Roman times was a cruel, inhuman instrument of execution and the most frightful form of death. This day marks the glorious and joyful moment when the True Cross of Jesus Christ, the very wooden Cross on which our Lord and Saviour had been hung on, was discovered by St Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, who was also the first Christian Roman Emperor. The Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross of Jesus is celebrated this day for this is the day that the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher was dedicated in Jerusalem over the site where Jesus died on the Cross. Today is also the celebration of the return of the Holy Cross to Jerusalem after it had been taken by the Persians. Today's readings allow us to reflect on the meaning of the cross and glory in the exaltation of the Cross, our being raised up eventually to be with Jesus in Heaven. 

We glory in the instrument of His death, that frightening cross where thieves, slaves and criminals were publicly executed because the Cross of Christ has become the life-giving throne of mercy. The instrument of His death becomes the channel of God’s mercy; and so we proclaim the triumph of new Life, poured out from the Cross. In the second reading, Paul places before us the person of Christ who empty Himself (κένοσις – kenosis) to bring us new life. In the exodus journey of the Israelites through the Sinai desert, there was a plague of fiery serpents, from whose venemous bite many people died as recorded in today's first reading. Then at God’s command, Moses made a bronze statue of a serpent and mounted it on a pole, as a pledge of recovery. Jesus applies this episode to Himself in today's Gospel: “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” (Jn 3:14-15). The image of a serpent on a pole is a universal symbol of medics. This imagery which is used by medical corporations and agencies is taken from Numbers (21:4-9); to say that all who look at the exalted image on the wood are given healing and are raised up from their sickness. The Cross of Christ empowers us to share in the struggle against oppressors of every sort. We can best honour His Cross today if, like Him, we stand up for those in our times who are unjustly treated and marginalised.

May our work continue to address the sorrows of the world as we continue to follow the one who destroyed death and turned its tool into a sign of life! Amen!! Remain safe and have a fruitful week!!!

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