The homily of the Apostolic Nuncio, Chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature, Delhi 14 September 2017

Gospel: John 3:13-17

It seems that the protagonist of today’s readings is the serpent, which the Bible mentions and defines as the smartest of the wild animals God created, the most cunning, but also that he is a charmer that has the ability to fascinate, to charm.

Moreover, he is a liar, he is jealous; it is because of the devil’s envy — the serpent’s envy — that sin entered the world. He has this ability to ruin us with seduction: he promises many things, but when the time comes to pay he is an evil payer.

To save Israel from the serpent’s venom, the Lord told Moses to make a bronze serpent, and that whoever looked at that serpent would be saved. Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus himself explained that just as Moses had lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.

For what reason would the Lord choose this bad, ugly figure?That it was simply because Jesus came to take all our sins upon himself, becoming the greatest sinner without having ever committed a sin. This is why Paul tells us that Jesus became sin for us. Using this figure, then, Christ became a serpent. [It’s an ugly figure!] but He really did become sin to save us.

This is precisely the message given to us in today’s liturgy on this feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. May our Lord give us the grace that we ask of Our Lady at the foot of the Cross: the grace to cry, to cry out of love, to cry out of gratitude, because our God loved us so much that he sent his Son to lower himself and allow himself to be crushed in order to save us.