Satan promises many things —the answer is the Cross…
(CUSA) If we want to move forward “on the path of Christian life” we must fall, just as Jesus did when he carried the Cross.
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS, 2015
Brothers and Sisters,
The reading of the day tells of the serpent in the desert and speaks of the temptations of evil that seduce and then destroy us.
The protagonist of the parable is a snake. He is cunning and he also has the ability to charm.
The Bible also tells us that he is a liar and he is a jealous, and because of the devil’s envy, sin entered into the world. This capacity to seduce us ruins us.
He promises many things but when time comes, his price is high.
Paul got angry with the Galatian Christians and said to them: “Foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Did you experience so many things in vain?” They had been corrupted by the snake. This was nothing new; it was in the consciousness of the people of Israel.
The Lord told Moses to make a bronze serpent and those who looked at it would be saved. This is also a prophecy, a promise which is not easy to understand. That’s why Jesus says to Nicodemus, As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must be lifted up the Son of Man, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Therefore, that bronze serpent represented Jesus raised on the Cross. Why did the Lord choose this bad and ugly image? Simply because He came to take upon himself all our sins, and He became the greatest sinner without having committed any.
Paul tells us: ‘He became sin for us’, by taking on the image ‘He became the snake. He became sin to save us’; this is the message in the Liturgy of the Word today, the path of Jesus.
God became man and took his sin upon himself. And Paul explains to the Philippians of whom he was so fond: “though he was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”
Jesus emptied himself, became sin for us, He who knew no sin. The mystery is this: he became ugly like the serpent.
We see beautiful paintings of Jesus on the cross, but reality is different: He was torn and bloodied by our sins. This is the path that He took to defeat the serpent in his own camp.
We must look at the Cross of Jesus, not the artistic, well-painted ones, but at reality. And we must look at his path and at God who annihilated himself, stooped to save us.
This is the way of the Christian: If a Christian wants to move forward on the road of Christian life he must fall, just as Jesus fell. It is the way of humility, yes, it also means he must take humiliation upon himself just as Jesus did.
Translation from Vatican Radio