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The Son of Man

Gospel reading: 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.

So must the Son of Man be lifted up
The cross (Greek stauros) is an ancient instrument of execution often employed by the Greeks and the Romans for its deterrent value, especially against rebellious slaves and seditious provincials. Because of the protracted suffering and extreme ignominy of this punishment, crucifixion was viewed as the supreme penalty, the “most wretched of death.”

That Christians would hold as Messiah and worship as Lord one who died on the cross was foolish and scandalous to both Jews and pagans (cf 1 Cor 1:18-25). The scandal of the cross would only be removed if the meaning attached to it were completely overturned. This happened with Jesus’ resurrection. In the light of the resurrection, the death of Jesus on the cross took a salvific meaning. It was seen as an atonement, a sacrifice, Jesus’ kenosis or self-emptying, proof of God’s love for us.

Today’s Gospel presents Jesus’ crucifixion as his “lifting up,” part of Jesus’ ascent to glory. This ascent already begins when Jesus is lifted up on the cross. It continues when he is raised up by the Father, and climaxes when he is lifted up to heaven. This Paschal mystery is a saving action. Thus, Jesus compares his crucifixion to Moses’ lifting up of the bronze serpent in the desert (cf Nm 21:9). Just as the Israelites who looked at it were immunized from the venom of the snakes, so Jesus on the cross is a source of life for those who will look up to him with faith.

How often do you make the sign if the cross?

Do you pay attention to what you are doing?

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.