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Stronger than Evil

Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross

First Reading: Nehemiah 21:4B-9

With their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
“We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.”
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.”
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 78:1BC-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Hearken, my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable,
I will utter mysteries from of old.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
While he slew them they sought him
and inquired after God again,
Remembering that God was their rock
and the Most High God, their redeemer.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But they flattered him with their mouths
and lied to him with their tongues,
Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him,
nor were they faithful to his covenant.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But he, being merciful, forgave their sin
and destroyed them not;
Often he turned back his anger
and let none of his wrath be roused.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel: John 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And 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.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.

NAB

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Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, a feast that is a true paradox. Here we are exalting in the cross that killed our Lord, we are celebrating an instrument of torture on which our Saviour suffered and died. Yet it is precisely because of the cross that death and suffering no longer have the final word.

We celebrate the cross because it is exactly through the cross that we have been provided salvation and redemption. It took Christ’s extreme and complete sacrifice on the cross to open the gates of Heaven to us, to allow the graces of Heaven to flow through the Church. It is in the cross that we see the wideness and fullness of God’s love for us. God’s love for us is shown so completely, and now for us to exalt in this cross means to live in that love.

Pope Benedict XVI’s words on the power of today’s feast are beautiful to ponder:

“The sign of the Cross is a kind synthesis of our faith, for it tells how much God loves us; it tells us that there is a love in this world that is stronger than death, stronger than our weaknesses and sins. The power of love is stronger than the evil which threatens us.” (Homily at Lourdes, 2008)

It is in this powerful contradiction that is the very crux of our faith. Christ’s death on the cross has become the greatest sign of God’s unconditional love for us, it has given us the Resurrection. And in this paradox we exalt.

[bctt tweet=”It is because of the cross that death and suffering no longer have the final word.” username=”blessedisshe__”]

Through the cross Christ has shown His limitless love for each of us. His love changes who we are, let His love change our hearts and minds today.

photo credit

Christy Isinger is the mom to five lovely, loud children living in the Canadian wilds. You can find out more about her here.

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