Posted by: livingscripture | April 14, 2015

Second Tuesday of Easter

From the Word of the Day 

“Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘You must be born from above.  The wind blows where it wills and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’  Nicodemus answered and said to him, ‘How can this happen?’  Jesus answered and said to him, ‘You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? …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.”        (John 3: 7-10-15))                                                    

 

How should we live this WordCross 1

Today we continue the meeting of Jesus with Nicodemus.  Yesterday we paused on the first part of the dialogue, an echo of which returns today.  “You must be born from above”.  Now we will limit ourselves to highlight the last part of the passage, “so must the Son of Man be lifted up” on the Cross.  In order to explain the theological necessity of the passion and death of the Messiah, the Son of Man, Jesus makes a paragon with what happened in the desert after the Israelites had left Egypt.  According to the Book of Numbers, the Jews were attacked by deadly snakes.  Moses raised a pole with a bronze serpent on it.  Those who looked upon it, even if they had been bitten by the snakes, remained alive and were saved (Num. 21: 4-9).  This ancient account is reinterpreted by Jesus in ‘wisdom’ light, seeing the serpent as a sign of salvation (Wisdom 16: 6-7).

Now we can understand Jesus’ words as a pressing invitation to believe in the Son of Man lifted on the cross as the serpent was lifted by Moses.  Whoever believes in the Crucified, finds salvation and life.  The basis of comparison lies in the fact that in both cases salvation comes through a ‘lifting up’.  This term has a double significance for Jesus and alludes both to His being lifted up on the cross and to His resurrection and glorification.  The vision of the cross as lifting up-glorification appears humanly unsustainable to us, and yet a just glance allows us to perceive a ‘stupendous beyond’.  We not only believe in Jesus on the Cross as the gift of Himself, as the marvelous story of the greatest Love, but we believe that the CROSS IS GLORY AND VICTORY!

How distant we are from the perspective, for example, of a well-known pagan writer, Cicero, who sees the cross in a dark way, totally opposed to what we have just said.  Jesus transformed the cross from an instrument of a horrible death, to an instrument of Salvation, Glory, and Victory!

In my pause for silent contemplation, I will gaze upon a Crucifix and marvel at the love of Jesus and His ability to transform even what is most horrible into something beautiful.

The Voice of Marco Tullio Cicero, Latin Pagan Writer

He defines the penalty of death on a cross as, “the Cross is the cruelest and most horrendous punishment”.

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