John 3:16 – Memorized by most Protestants, perhaps we should too! – for God so loved the world – central teaching of the NT. That we might have eternal life!
Today’s Gospel Recalls the Exodus story – snakes biting people – Moses was told: mount the snake on a pole and anyone who looks at it will be healed. Became symbol of medical profession. Caduceus
Strange – that which caused death now becomes the instrument of life?! A sign of what was to happen later: Jesus nailed the snake – the Evil One – to the cross. He took the weight of all sin upon His shoulders!
The cross – In the early Church, Christians DID NOT want to pray in front of one or wear one. Go to catacombs - no crosses – more like Xst the Good Shepherd or the Lamb of God. It was simply too close in time to Jesus’ Crucifixion – plus Romans still used crucifixion.
Only after 300 years could they look at it again. Devotion began to take off when St. Helen discovered the True Cross in Jerusalem.
So developed the idea of a crucifix - cruci fixus – fixed to the cross. INRI Today we expect to see one in a Catholic Church. Many of us have one hanging over our bed.
Other devotions began to develop:
Sign of the Cross: around the 200’s – in the name of the Father Orthodox: 3 fingers: Trinity – Two fingers: divinity and humanity of Jesus. Mother had holy water font at door: bless yourself. Do it morning at night – Bless children as well!
Stations of the Cross Via Crusis – Via Dolorosa (sorrow) Began obviously in Jerusalem – Franciscans had idea of bringing it to churches “We adore you O Christ and we praise you. Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.” St. Francis
Pilate washing hands, Soldiers mocking, Meeting his mother, Simon steps in to help, Veronica wipes his face, Mary Magdalene & John stay close by, Joseph of Aramethea gives own tomb.
So why the Cross?
1) Look what he did for us - God so loved the world . . .
2) We all have a share of the cross Church is a meeting of cross bearers . . . look around you, no one here without splinters in shoulders.
3) Difference we can make .. help others carry cross a support group for people with weighty crosses.
So, we live by sign of the cross – prayer, around our necks, meeting rooms, homes, offices, classrooms.
John 3:16 -