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Lift Up the Cross
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
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.
Opening Prayer: Lord God, thank you for loving us so much that you sent your beloved Son to die for us. Help me to listen to what you want to say to me today and express my gratitude for this wonderful gift of Christ in all that I do.
- Lifted Up: In today’s first reading, Moses lifted up a bronze serpent so that those who were bitten by the saraph serpents would not die (see Numbers 21:4-9). The afflicted had to look upon the serpent to be healed. We are all afflicted by sin, so we too must cast our eyes upon Christ who was lifted up on the cross. We must constantly turn to Christ for healing and wholeness. When we look upon the cross, we see the proof of God’s love for us. That he gave us his only Son so that we might have life, not just human life but God’s eternal life (see John 3:16). May our hearts be moved with love when we gaze upon a crucifix!
- Humility Exalted: A great paradox is at work in Christ’s lifting up on the cross. In his obedience to God the Father, Jesus emptied himself (see Philippians 2:7-8). He became the lowest-of-the-low; he became sin itself: “For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of his obedience, and out of total self-giving love, God the Father lifted him up above everything in existence: “Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).
- The Paradox of Humility: This paradox of humility extends to us as his disciples as well. Jesus tells us, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). Additionally, the first beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). When we can become small and humble, God has room to work in us. His works through us can surprise and even astonish us. And when we realize we have been blessed to be God’s good instrument, we humbly give him all of the glory.
Conversing with Christ: Oh my Jesus, how I wish to be humble and obedient in imitation of you, but I can be prideful, stubborn, and self-serving. I cannot become meek and humble of heart on my own. Please give me the grace to become obedient to your holy will. Help me get out of my own way and let you work through me. Let me be your instrument of love and peace.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will do something hidden for another out of love for you, and seek no credit for having done so.
For Further Reflection: Pray this prayer by St. John Henry Newman, which was a favorite of St. Teresa of Calcutta’s: Radiating Christ.
Written by Carey Boyzuck.