The Triumph of the Cross

A Savior Greater Than Moses

Moses had, at God’s command, led Israel out of slavery in Egypt. When the people rebelled in the desert, they were punished by fiery serpents that bit them with poisonous venom. Moses intervened on their behalf, making a bronze image of a serpent, placed on a post; those who looked at it were saved. Jesus saves humanity from its rebellion, not by a symbol raised on a stick, but by sacrificing himself as he was raised on a cross. He saves me not from temporal death, but eternal death. He is indeed a Savior greater than Moses.

The Triumph of Failure

In the time of Jesus, no one would have considered crucifixion a triumph or a win of any sort. It may have been considered a triumph for those who were doing the crucifying; it certainly would never have been considered a triumph for the person crucified. Yet, that is what we are celebrating. Jesus, in being crucified, triumphed. It was a triumph of love over hatred, triumph of life over death.

Jesus was put to death in the cruelest way but through his death he passed over into a new life and that life was offered to us all. The blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus in John’s gospel speaks to us of the life that flows through the death of Jesus. The cross has been celebrated in art as the tree of life. The triumph of the cross, which is the triumph of God and of Jesus over Satan and all the forces of evil and death, is a triumph in which we all share. From the cross Jesus draws all of us into the love and life of God.

The Degree of God’s Love

As John the evangelist says in today’s gospel, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.’ Jesus revealed God’s love in all that he said and did, but he revealed God’s love most fully on the cross. John the evangelist would say that on the cross Jesus revealed God’s glory. How much does the Father love me? If we could measure love on a thermometer, God’s infinite love would send the mercury out the end. His love is boundless. What would he withhold from me if he has already given his son to save me?

My sentiments upon contemplating the immensity of God’s love for me should be gratitude, praise, and a reciprocating love towards him. The love of God is rooted in truth, goodness, and mercy. God gives us the freedom to choose whom and what we will love and not love. We can love the darkness of sin and unbelief, or we can love the light of God’s truth, goodness, and mercy. If our love is guided by truth, goodness, and that which is truly beautiful, then we will choose for God and love him above all else.

What we love shows what we prefer. Do you love God who is the supreme good above all else? Do you know the healing transforming power of the cross of Jesus Christ? There is no greater proof of God’s love for us than the sending of his Son to become one with us in our humanity and to lay down his life for us. Shalom!

[Readings: Nm 21:4b-9; Phil 2:6-11; Jn 3:13-17]

Fr. Nnaemeka Paschal Ajuka

Fr. Nnaemeka Paschal Ajuka, PhD., BCC., ACPE Certified Educator Candidate, is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, Nigeria, and a Board-Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) and National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). He is a retreat preacher who loves his faith. As a sociologist, he cherishes and operates from the vertical and horizontal relationships with God and neighbor. He takes Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer for peace “Lord make me an Instrument of Peace,” as his ministry mission statement. He is a care provider who meets human needs without discrimination. He has been actively involved in the pastoral ministry in parishes in Nigeria and in the US. Previously, he was an adjunct lecturer at Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary Umuahia and the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Nigeria. Currently, he is a Certified Educator Candidate with the Department of Chaplaincy Services and Education, University of California Health, Davis, Sacramento.

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