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Holy Cross

September 14, 2020

“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.” John 3:14-15

In the fourth century Helena, mother of Constantine, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. She found what she believed to be the sites of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial (and there’s good reason to believe she was right). Here, Constantine built the Church the Holy Sepulchre. Tradition holds that on September 14, 320, Helena found the True Cross of Jesus Christ. Today is Holy Cross Day, a day to celebrate the triumph of the cross.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus recalls the moment in the wilderness when Moses held up the serpent so that those who were bitten by snakes could look upon it and live. An odd means of salvation, if you think about it, looking upon that which afflicts and torments you and thereby being saved.

Jesus wants us to understand his mission. He has come not to remove the afflictions of this world but to endure them so that, when we look upon him, we will be saved. In the moment of his lifting up, in what looks like complete suffering and shame, we behold the victory and reign of God. Jesus is lifted up, first upon the cross and then from the grave. We look upon him and live. In his death, we find life. In the cross, once a means of death, we see the Lamb seated upon the throne.

As we say in the solemnity of Good Friday, we say with joy today: We adore you, O Christ and we bless you. By your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of mercy, we bless you for the pains your Son endured for our sake. May our eyes be upon the cross, this day and everyday, that we would be mindful of your salvation and encouraged in our calling. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, August 19, 2017. Photo by me.

 

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