Homily for April 12, Tuesday of the V week of Lent
Click here for the podcast version of this homily.
Or, subscribe to this podcast RSS feed in iTunes or your favorite podcast downloading software.
In the Gospel of John 3:13-15, Jesus says, “No one has gone up to heaven except the One who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And 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.” Today’s readings bring together the Old Testament text from the book of Numbers that gives us the account of this event with Moses and the Israelites in the desert, and another later passage from the Gospel of John. Jesus refers again to being “lifted up”, implicitly referring once more to the same text.
It is clear that Jesus says this to talk about His own crucifixion. From both New Testament passages, we can see the parallel. We have all been bitten and poisoned by sin, and everyone who does not believe in Jesus “will die in [their] sins”, whereas those who look to His redeeming sacrifice with faith will be saved.
Jesus being “lifted up” also refers to His return to the Father. Christ emphasizes that He “belong[s] to what is above”, and has “come down from heaven”. He does not just look “down from His holy height”, as the psalm says today. Because He heard the cry of those in need of forgiveness, He came down to bring those who believe in Him back up with Him. The way to heaven is through the Cross of Christ, and through our own crosses, born with faith in their redemptive value when joined to His sufferings.
Thus, once again we see that the Lord is carrying out a mission that was decreed by the Father long ago, and foreshadowed and foretold in prophecies and events throughout the Old Testament. He truly does “nothing on [His] own” but “always do[es] what is pleasing” to the Father, and so the One Who sent Him is always with Him and does not leave Him alone.
As we finish this Lenten season, let us ask God to help us to do His will always, even when it means accepting the Cross, because there is nothing more important than being with God, here below and forever in heaven.