Ps 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38
Do not forget the works of the Lord!
FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
Psalter: Proper / (Red)
1st Reading: Num 21:4b-9
The people were discouraged by the journey and began to complain against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is neither bread nor water here and we are disgusted with this tasteless manna.”
Yahweh then sent fiery serpents against them. They bit the people and many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, speaking against Yahweh and against you. Plead with Yahweh to take the serpents away.”
Moses pleaded for the people and Yahweh said to him, “Make a poisonous serpent and set it on a standard; whoever has been bitten and then looks at it shall live.”
So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a standard. Whenever a man was bitten, he looked towards the bronze serpent and he lived.
2nd Reading: Phil 2:6-11
Though he was in the form of God,
he did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped,
but emptied himself,
taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness,
and in his appearance found as a man.
He humbled himself by being obedient to death,
death on the cross.
That is why God exalted him
and gave him the Name which outshines all names,
so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend
in heaven, on earth and among the dead,
and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Gospel: Jn 3:13-17
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.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus during a conversation with a friendly Jew called Nicodemus, draws a parallel between the episode of the bronze snake mentioned in today’s first reading and his own destiny. He emphasizes two features which are found in both sides of the comparison. First, the metal snake was lifted up on a pole, and he himself will one day be lifted up on the cross. Secondly, the bronze snake was a source of life: all those who looked at it were immunized against the venom of the live snakes; likewise, he too will be a source of life in this world and in the next for all those who will look up to him with faith.
The lesson to be drawn from all this is very simple. All of us are victims of sin. From the time when Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden gave in to the temptation of the satanic Snake, humankind has been poisoned by pride, greed, lust, envy, laziness, gluttony, and all the other forms of sin. In all of us the poison of sin is present and undermines our spiritual organism. And so, our only hope is to go to Jesus, our doctor and healer.
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