Happy Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross! Today we look to the Cross and recognize the power of the love that is revealed through Christ’s sacrifice and the healing mercy of this act.
In the reading’s for Mass today we hear about the Israelites complaining that they are unsatisfied with the food they have to eat: “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.” God doesn’t like their complaining so He sends serpents to where they are and those who were bitten die. But Moses repents for the people and asks that the Lord take the serpents from among them. God commands Moses to make a saraph (serpent) and mount it on a staff. All who were bitten and looked at the staff were healed.
Just as God gave Moses the staff of a serpent for those dying to look at, God gave us Jesus on the Cross so that we might look at and be healed from our ailments and cured from death. That is the power of the Cross. One look can bring salvation. He took what was the look of death and using the very same symbol (a snake, a cross) and turned it into life.
The cross depicts death. Jesus did die on the cross alongside two thieves. It was a cruel and embarrassing punishment. Yet we know the victory His Cross obtained for us – the victory of life over death and freedom from sin. So though we may have been bitten and poisoned by different sins in our lives we can look to the Cross and see our salvation, life and resurrection. “Through Him we are saved and delivered.”
I’ve had my share of snake bites in this life. As I remember them, yes, there’s pain and sorrow but mostly I remember the mercy of the Lord and the healing He gave to me. His Cross didn’t end in death and neither do our sins; if we choose to accept His love and mercy there can be new life.
This is why we glory in the Cross, this is why we exalt it and admire it because it won for us new life with God forever.