The Church refers to this Sunday as «The Sunday before the Exaltation of the Holy Cross» and in today's Gospel’s excerpt we read about the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus speaks in allegory about a miraculous event that took place in the Old Testament comparing it with His crucifixion: « Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him» (John III: 14-15).
The patterns and symbolisms are certainly obvious. Moses raised the bronze serpent on a pole. Jesus too was left hanging on a wooden pole, on the Cross. This way, the Lord makes a great revelation, showing us the magnitude of the love of God the Father for man. At the same time, He foretells His crucifixion, thus preparing His disciples for the voluntary Passion and His sacrifice on the Cross that were about to happen soon.
How great is the love of God! He did not send a slave, an angel or an archangel to the people to be crucified, but His only begotten Son. Let us dwell on this for a moment. Who among us sacrifices his only child for the sake of someone else? The will of God the Father is clear, it is to draw us all back to Him, not by revealing His omnipotence and glory, but by showing His love and humility.
The cross on which, willingly, the immaculate and flawless body of Jesus Christ was once raised, was turned from an instrument of suffering and death into the invincible symbol of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus the Son of God and the second Theanthropic Hypostasis of the Divine Trinity, for the salvation of mankind. The Cross of the Lord reminds us that when we choose it as our way of life in general, and as our life in the church in particular, we gain our true freedom and our true peace surrounded by the love of God. Man is therefore judged by his attitude towards the cross of Jesus Christ, his acceptance and love for the cross or his resentment, rejection, disgrace or blasphemy to it.
It is no coincidence, that the Cross of Christ is the weapon of salvation of all Christians, it is our trophy and pride, since from a deadly mean it became an instrument of life. That is why every believer wears it on his neck, that is why we make the sign of the cross, that is why the priests bless us with the sign of the cross from a distance, or closely moving their hand over our bodies and our foreheads. Because it reminds us of our Lord and protects us from every dangerous attack and temptation and sanctifies us, every time we draw it upon us in faith, invoking the help and the mercy of God.
The infinite and eternal God loved us regardless, while we have nothing presentable and worthy of His love. And the Son of God Himself became human to save us from the oppression of the devil. And He was lifted on the Cross, so that we would not be lost in eternal darkness but live and share with Him blissfully His own eternal life. And He accepted us as His children, as members of His Church, He sustains us with the Holy Mysteries, and He grants us forgiveness of our iniquities, sanctification and salvation of our souls.
The course of our salvation is therefore based on our faith in Jesus Christ, who was crucified to redeem us from the sin and resurrected to draw us to the eternal life, alongside with the angels and the saints. So when we turn our gaze towards the Cross, we don’t only see the crucified, condemned and despised human nature, but the rising of the infinite love of God who humbles and sacrifices Himself and dies, so that man may ascend, live and be saved. Amen.