Reflection: Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Num.21:4-9; Ps.77; 2nd Reading – Phil.2:6-11; Gospel – Jn.3:13-17]


“Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.”

It is strange that the Cross, a sign of disgrace and malediction, has become for us Christians, a means of eternal life… It is strange how this sign of death has become for us a means of life… It is strange how this Jesus Christ by emptying himself is acclaimed Lord… All this seems to us, ‘intelligent’ beings, not only strange but also contradictory and ‘nonsense’.

This ‘nonsense’ clarifies itself as soon as we understand Jesus’ comparison with Moses who lifted up the serpent in the desert. In the first readings the Israelites lost patience, they spoke against God and Moses, and they suffered the consequences – death through fiery serpents. They, then, recognised their sin and asked the intercession of Moses who on the instructions of the Lord, “fashioned a bronze serpent (the same sign of death) which he put on a standard and … anyone [who] looked at the bronze serpent … lived.”

The bitten ones had only to look at the serpent and be healed – seems like there is something magical.

In the Gospel, although Jesus is talking about God’s love for the world, something which everyone knows, Jesus is insisting (twice) for “those who believe”. It is not enough to look at Jesus , as Nicodemus [a Pharisee and leader of the Jews!] was doing! One has to believe in Jesus as the word of God had already foretold in the Old Testament. Those who believe in Him may have eternal life… They “may”, because they have to show what they believe in, through their actions. If we do not believe, we will “be lost”.

Therefore, how can we believe?

God has done his part – “He has sent his Son into the world … so that the world might be saved.” Now, it depends on us if we are ready to accept this challenge. We have to do our part. God is opening all the doors and all the windows … and He is giving us all the possible possibilities to show us His immense love and save us. It depends on us if we are ready to accept Him as our Saviour and Guide in our daily living. It is not enough to know Him – Nicodemus knew Him (By the way, even the devil knows Jesus, and very well!) Once we “believe”, we realise that He, Jesus, the one who is lifted up, becomes for us that sign which when looked at, we are reminded not much of our sins (alias death), but of His Love, His Grace, His Salvation (alias Life)… All this happens because the Father loves us so much … that the sign of death, for those who believe, becomes the sign of Life, of Benediction, of Grace. For the others it still remains a sign of death!

“Lord, give us the desire to increase our faith in You. Open our eyes that we may see Your presence and Your love in everything. Lord, teach us to believe! ”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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