BEING LIFTED UP
In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds Nicodemus how Moses had "lifted up the serpent in the desert." Then Jesus says, "So must the Son of Man be lifted up, that all who believe may have eternal life in him." The evangelist clearly saw this "lifting up" of Jesus to mean his crucifixion.
That "lifting up" of the serpent by Moses is described in today's first reading. The people were attacked by "saraph serpents," and many died. God had Moses make an image of the serpent and put it on a pole and lift it up. The people who had been bitten looked at it and recovered.
Jesus "emptied himself, taking the form of a slave." Lifted up on the cross, he was despised and seemed the most abject of people. But it was in embracing this disgrace and painful death that he became the bearer of eternal life for all of us. His "lifting up" in shame was also his "lifting up" in glory and triumph.
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