September 14, 2008
Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Feast
John 3: 13-17
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever 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 may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe you want me to be so united to you that I radiate your presence. I am humbled to be called to your service, and I know that the mission that comes from you is beyond my own strength. I hope I will be generous enough to put aside my own likes so that I may receive the shower of your love and be a sign of your goodness to all people.
Petition: Lord Jesus, let me suffer with you.
1. Divine Love
Make no mistake: Jesus is God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of Man. Because of God’s incomprehensible love for mankind, Jesus, despite his divinity, suffered and died a human death on a Roman cross. The Father did not spare even his own son in his great desire to redeem us. What is our response to this intense, immeasurable, unfathomable love? How do we handle our own suffering, knowing that even the Son of Man was not spared?
2. Moses Prefigured Christ
At God’s command, and by his mercy, Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness so that Israelites, bitten by poisonous serpents in the desert, might look upon it and be saved from physical death. At God’s command, and by his mercy, Jesus was lifted up on the cross, so that all men, bitten by sin, might look upon him with the eyes of faith, repent, believe, and be saved from eternal death.
3. The Paradox of Our Redemption
Man has long pondered the problem of evil: Why does a good and loving God permit evil? St. Thomas Aquinas provides us with the answer: to bring a greater good out of it. The worst objective evil in the history of the world was deicide: the crucifixion of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Yet out of this great evil, God brought forth the greatest good in the history of the world, namely, man’s redemption. We can trust God to bring good out of our suffering, too. We must believe that God knows what he is doing, even when we cannot understand.
Dialogue with Christ: My Lord Jesus, the depth of your love is beyond my comprehension. How is it that you would be willing to be lifted up on the cross and suffer an excruciatingly painful death on my behalf—when it was clearly I who deserved the punishment you endured? My sufferings are so small in comparison to yours, Jesus, but in response to your saving action, I intend to carry my cross with love and not complain, uniting my sufferings to yours. Thank you for the opportunity to suffer with you and show you that my love is real.
Resolution: I will silently meditate on the crucifix today for five minutes.
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