Jesus is the cure for He endures- Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross – Numbers 21: 4-9
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrated every year on September 14, recalls three historical events. The first is the discovery in AD 320, of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine. This was found under the temple of Venus in Jerusalem. The second is the dedication of the Church in 335, built by Constantine on the site of the Holy Sepulchre and Mount Calvary. The basilica was named the Martyrium, and the shrine, named the Calvarium but both were destroyed by the Persians in 614. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which now stands on the site, was built by the crusaders in 1149. Finally, the feast celebrates the restoration of the True Cross to Jerusalem by emperor Heraclius II.
But in a deeper sense, the feast also celebrates the Holy Cross as the instrument of our salvation; His salvific death on the Cross and His resurrection, through which, death was defeated and the doors to Heaven opened now to sinners.
The first reading of today, taken from the book of Numbers gives us an insight into human behaviour and God’s divine response. During their wanderings in Sinai, the Israelites suffer from a series of self-inflicted short term memory losses. They forget the goodness of God and His constant provision for their many needs (not their greed). When they were hungry He gave them manna from heaven, but they tired of the taste of these “cakes baked in oil” and demanded meat; which guess what, they got in the form of quails!
When then, would this grumbling against God stop? The serpents seem to be a just punishment for a people whose demands resemble a sushi train that constantly needs replenishment. Yet Yahweh relents with what may best be best described as a nudge, in the form of a prayer, as compared to the demands of this ‘pushy’ people.