— Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross —

“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up ...” (John 3:14)

In commenting on this verse from the Gospel according to Saint John from today’s Mass Readings, Saint Justin writes:

“It seems that the type and sign that was erected to counteract the serpents that bit Israel was intended for the salvation of those who believe that death was declared to come thereafter on the serpent through him who would be crucified. But salvation was to come to those who had been bitten by him and had committed themselves to him who sent his Son into the world to be crucified. For the Spirit of prophecy by Moses did not teach us to believe in the serpent, since it shows us that he was cursed by God from the beginning. And in Isaiah he tells us that he shall be put to death as an enemy by the mighty sword, which is Christ.

By this [lifting up of the serpent], he proclaimed the mystery where he declared that he would break the power of the serpent, which occasioned the transgression of Adam. He [would bring] salvation to those who believe on him because of this sign (i.e., his crucifixion) — salvation from the fangs of the serpent, which are wicked deeds, idolatries and other unrighteous acts. . . . Just as God commanded the sign to be made by the brazen serpent—and yet he is blameless — even so, though a curse lies in the law against persons who are crucified, yet no curse lies on the Christ of God, by whom all that have committed things worthy of a curse are saved.” (Dialogue with Trypho,, 94.)

Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Pope Benedict XVI reflected on this Feast during the Angelus of 11 September 2005.

An excerpt from a discourse on the Exaltation of the Cross by Saint Andrew of Crete appears in today’s Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings.

O God,
Who willed that your Only Begotten Son
should undergo the Cross to save the human race,
grant, we pray,
that we, who have known his mystery on earth,
may merit the grace of his redemption in heaven
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen