Dear Believers in the Christ,
In today’s gospel, John 3:14-21, “Jesus said to Nicodemus, “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.”
This passage invites us more deeply into the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. In these Lenten days, we explore the meaning of Jesus’ cross within our own lives. We learn to surrender our sin to the Father; we learn that our redemption lies in the merciful presence of Jesus who was lifted high on the cross so that we may live more fully in God’s Kingdom.
We live the cross every day. Through our body pain, our divorces, our job loss, our depression, our fear, and our efforts that seldom are recognized, we lift up our human nature to be transformed and redeemed in faith. Here we find the gift of surrender, the path to Jesus’ love and mercy. Living such faith is hard to come by because we seldom want to give up our opinions about what we think is correct. We seldom want to find our path toward humility. We are trained to always have the answers and to be on the defensive among the problems of the world.
Faith calls us into something more. Faith in Jesus Christ allows us to live in the heartfelt, merciful presence of love. Discovering this life is at arms length for most of us. Living the mission of the cross means that we discard our protective layer of hardness, superiority and our human authority, and surrender to the presence of Jesus. People who struggle from any addiction understand that their lives need God. People who have faced tragedy and loss know the emptiness only God can fill. People who have battled disease understand the meaning of the cross.
The religious community to which I belong, the Congregation of Holy Cross, views the cross at the center of our lives. In the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the guiding documents of our religious life, we read:
114. Jesus entered into the pain and death that sin inflicts. He accepted the torment but gave us joy in return. We whom He has sent to minister amid the same sin and pain must know that we too shall find the cross and the hope it promises. The face of every human being who suffers is for us the face of Jesus who mounted the cross to take the sting out of death. Ours must be the same cross and the same hope.
115. To struggle for justice and meet only stubbornness, to try to rally those who have despaired, to stand by the side of misery we cannot relieve, to preach the Lord to those who have little faith or do not wish to hear of him … our ministry will hint to us of Jesus’ suffering for us.
Blessings to you on the journey,