Gospel Reading: John 3:13-17
In today's Gospel, the connection between the bronze serpent in the desert and the cross of Christ becomes explicit. Jesus explains to Nicodemus that just as the serpent was raised up for the healing of the Israelites from the affliction of the serpents, so must Jesus (the Son of Man) be raised up on the cross for the healing of his people from the affliction of sin. Like the serpents, sin is deadly. It brings spiritual death, from which we must be healed to live. The cross of Christ is the healing remedy. For his sacrificial death atoned for our sins, offering us life in him. As the famous verse of John 3:16 explains, the sacrifice of Jesus is the result of God,s great love for the world. Just like in the scenario of the serpents, God does not leave his people stuck in the mud of sin. In his mercy and love, he offers healing (i.e. a solution to the problem we have gotten ourselves into). God does not cause us to sin. He did not create evil. We got ourselves into the mess of sin by choosing to rebel against God through disobeying his commandments. But God has offered the solution to get us out of the mess. That solution is Jesus Christ becoming man in order to die on the cross. The purpose of Jesus coming in the first place was to die for our sins. As the Gospel states, God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Jesus came, he died, and he rose for our salvation. Today, on this Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we lift high the cross, being reminded that by believing in Jesus Christ crucified and keeping our gaze on him, we can be healed from the poison of sin and given new life.
Taking it Home: ◦Take time to do an Examination of Conscience, which is simply reflecting on where we have fallen short in our love of God and neighbour. We all struggle with sin. Reflect on where, in particular, you struggle and then ask God to bring healing there. If necessary, go to Confession to experience God's healing mercy in that beautiful sacrament.
◦Gaze upon a crucifix and reflect upon the profound mystery of the cross. Ponder the agony Jesus suffered on the cross and take time in prayer to thank him for suffering for you.
Father Ed Bakker,
Priest & Missioner,
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne