September 14, Exaltation of the Holy Cross
It’s odd. When most people hear the words “John-Three-Sixteen” they visualize football.
Odder still, back before the late, great Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers won the first Super Bowl, John 3:16 used to conjure the image of a serpant raised on a pole in the dessert.
Confused? It is just as confusing for most people today as is was of Nicodemus.
Today’s Gospel reading:
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.
What most people don’t realize is that today is an echo of Good Friday reverberated in the liturgy. That’s probably because today’s liturgy does not come close to entering most people’s minds. And the same can be said on Good Friday also, as far as most people are concerned. I know this to be true because I have done street missions on Good Friday and most people you come across are… like what?
That’s on Good Friday. Now try telling people that today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and see what kind of reaction you get. It stands to reason.
Christ’s message is the same today as it was yesterday. It is the same message he told Nicodemus, who apparently did not get it. But there’s hope that he eventually did get it.
There’s greater hope in the fact that a lot of people do get it, people like Tim Tebow who paints it on his face for the world to see. People like John Paul II and people like you get it. If the world does not get it, it stands to reason. As Saint Paul reminds those who are in the world but not of the world:
“Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” — Romans 8:9
What does it mean to have the Spirit of Christ? It means to belong to him, not to the world. It means to say with Paul:
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” — Galatians 6:14
It also means we are called to evangelize, like Paul, like the Pope, like the martyrs who died because of their witness to the Cross of Christ.
If you could tell the world one thing today, what would it be? Would it be John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave us his only son? That if you are willing to believe, all your sins are forgiven, because Jesus Christ died for you on a cross?
Would you tell the world that today is your Good Friday?