1st Reading: Num 21:4b-9
With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, “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!” In punishment the Lord sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the Lord and you. Pray the Lord to take the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people, and the Lord said to Moses, “Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.” Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
2nd Reading: Phil 2:6-11
Brothers and sisters: Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Gospel: Jn 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.
REDEMMED BY THE HOLY CROSS: While different sources link today’s feast to the story of the discovery and veneration of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, the cross in itself remains a paradox. What was supposed to be a symbol of shame, pain and defeat is now held as the symbol of triumph over sin and death; an instrument of God’s mercy and reconciliation, an expression of his unbounded love for humanity. Gazing at the cross, we ponder on the greatness of God’s wisdom and depth of His love. As John writes; 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. With his arms outstretched, the man of the cross welcomes everyone who reposes his faith in him irrespective of colour, race, social status or nationality.
Prayer: Lord, the exaltation of your holy cross is a sign of victory through suffering, life won through death, help us to be conscious of the painful road we must travel to become your true disciples, witnesses of your love.
THE WORD OF GOD HEALS: A centurion (gentile) came to Jesus, to request Him to heal his slave. He had courage to reach to Jesus on behalf of his slave. He realized that he was not worthy to receive Jesus under his roof, and so requested Jesus to say the Word so that his slave would be healed. What great faith that the centurion had! The Word of God is full of power. How do we receive it? Do we trust that it will give us life? Sometimes we read the Word of God but fail to allow it to influence our life. In this way ee take it for granted. Following the example of St. John Chrysostom who had great knowledge of the Scriptures, let us have faith in the message of our Lord Jesus Christ.
NATURE OF WORTHINESS: The Roman Centurion of the gospel today had a good report, because he had an unusual attitude to his servant. He took care of his servant and when his servant was sick, he sent elders of the Jews to Jesus for the healing of his servant. He was a religious man for he built synagogue for them. He had an extremely unusual attitude to the Jews who would normally despise the foreigners. We also find that he was a humble man, because a Jew was forbidden to enter into a house of gentile. Therefore, he would persuade his Jewish friends to approach Jesus. Finally, he was a man of faith in Jesus. For he had confessed that he had authority over the soldiers and the servants and believed that Jesus had greater authority over everything. He believed that Jesus could do miracles. What about our faith in Christ our Lord?