September 14th, 2022

The Gospel According to 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. 

Reflection: This language may seem strange to our ears, but Nicodemus, a learned Pharisee, clearly understood Jesus. To scholars like Nicodemus, “Son of Man” had two meanings. The first is human, mortal. The second is a prophetic king as described in the Book of Daniel (7:13-14): “As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of Heaven one like a son of man. 

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross commemorates the Holy Cross on which our Lord, Savior, and King, Jesus Christ, was crucified. I have, on many occasions, sat in church for hours and just looked up at the cross. My thoughts are always of the excruciating pain that our Lord went through not only suffering on the cross but also on the pain and humiliation on that road at this point in God’s grand plan. It’s important, for us, that we too at times feel that pain and suffering to a smaller extent in our own lives.

At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head: INRI “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.” Then “all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on.” To this day, the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica’s dedication.

Action of the Day: Lord, by your grace, help me to, like Nicodemus, come to you, to ask you questions, and follow you even in my confusion and pain. 

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