Triumph of the Cross

John 3:13-17
Nm 21:4b-9/ Ps 78:1-2,34-38/ Phil 2:6-11

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.
(John 3:14-15)

Grant us the grace, Lord, to be aware
That our sins are Your crucifixion;
And the wisdom to accept our share
In Your cross for our own conviction.

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”(John 3:13-17)

Reflection

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Jesus cited the account of Moses lifting up the bronze serpent on a standard (to save the Israelite nation who had sinned against God) in order to prophesy His own death on the cross, which would also become the standard of salvation for future generations of Christians.

This veneration of the Cross originated in the fourth century, which, according to early accounts, began when a remnant of the Cross in Calvary was miraculously discovered by Saint Helen, the mother of Constantine, when she went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem on September 14, 326. Thus, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross has been celebrated by Christians on September 14 ever since.

We venerate the Cross of Christ because it was and still is the instrument of our salvation. Adoring the Cross might seem like idolatry to some denominations, but for most Christians, it is actually adoring Jesus Christ Himself, Who suffered and died on this Roman instrument of torture to redeem us from sin. It represents the supreme Sacrifice by which our Lord Jesus was able to accomplish for our salvation. He humbled Himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. (Phil. 2:8)

One of the most controversial developments in America has been the victory of civil liberties groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation in removing crosses and pictures or images of Jesus Christ from state and federal schools, because their display “violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution” on the separation of church and state. How ironic that the constitution this country’s founding fathers had forged “by the grace, love, and trust in God” is now used to discriminate against God and the Christian faith. Their “liberal” leaders seem to have forgotten the words of our Lord Jesus: “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” (Mt.10:38). The cross is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. Whenever we kneel in prayer before the cross, we meditate on this great mystery of our salvation. St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “The language of the cross may be illogical to those who are not on the way to salvation, but those of us who are on the way see it as God’s power to save.” (1Cor. 1:18)

As members of the one true Church of Christ, we have surrendered our lives to His cross, and therein gained victory over death and sin. We must never compromise our victory for the sake of accommodating those who do not share our own belief. On the contrary, we must exalt the cross as a constant reminder — and witness — of Christ’s ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His passion and death on the Cross. For the Church to be universal, all Christians must embrace it!

Lord, please enlighten all Christian leaders that Your Cross is our most powerful instrument of evangelization. Inspire them to give witness to its meaning in our faith, because in Your great sacrifice, there can never be any compromise. Amen.

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