Exultation of the Holy Cross

Moses made a bronze serpent

Many years ago I received a tract in the mail that was apparently sent out by a local Lutheran church. The tract contained a very interesting: interpretation of the medical symbol with two intertwined snakes on pole: Snakes, usually associated with evil, have come to represent healing since the time of Moses and the Israelites wandering in the desert. Due to their grumbling and impatience towards God, fiery serpents were allowed to bite the people, causing many of them to die. After the people cried out to God, God instructed Moses to craft bronze serpent and mount it on a pole–and when the snake bite victims would look at the serpent, they would live. This account was a foreshadowing of Jesus on the cross. Jesus Christ crucified is the antidote to the eternally devastating snakebite, sin and death. God transformed the instrument of torture and death into the means of blessing and grace.

 

A days after receiving the tract, I learned that the liturgy for September 14th, the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross, used the same readings mentioned in the tract, to convey the same message of hope. Death has lost its power and now it becomes the gateway to Life. This is the paradox of the cross. That is why we can say that there is meaning in suffering and that if we suffer with Christ in his transforming power, we will surely be glorified with and in him. Like St. Helena who discovered relics of the true cross, today we discover the hope of the Cross.

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