All Is Upside Down and Backwards

All Is Upside Down and Backwards September 14, 2020

Exaltation of the Holy Cross. All is upside down and backwards.
Pixabay / Public Domain.


Numbers 21:4-9, Philippians 2:6-11 and John 3:13-17 for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 14 September.


How odd to speak of the Exaltation of the Cross that is a tool of humiliation, torture and execution!

How odd all the Word of the Lord is today!

In today’s three readings, all upside down and backwards.

Moses lifted up the lifeless image of a serpent on a pole to heal the people of deadly snakebite that came as a punishment for their sin.

Then, God’s beloved Son is to be lifted up in death on the beams of a cross, so that whoever believes in him may be healed of sin and death, and gain eternal life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son … that the world might be saved through him.

To ransom a slave and rebel, God gave up his Son.

All is upside down and backwards.

All-Holy God pays for our sins by his own death on the Cross.

However, our benefit is the smaller part of what took place on the Cross— the smaller part of what the Gospel reveals.

Today in his Gospel the Lord speaks of himself as the Son who has received himself from the Father, has come down from the Father to the earth, and goes up back to the Father.

Today his Gospel also tells us of the Father who in love gives his Word, overflowing himself in his Son that the world might be saved through him.

Today’s Gospel unfolds the meaning of earlier words about how the Father’s Spirit is at work in us through the Son.

By Baptismal Water and the Holy Spirit, our lives misshapen by sin and death are turned upside down and backwards, and we are reborn into the Son of God, reborn into his human life, reborn into his death, reborn into his resurrection, ascension and exaltation, reborn in him as royal sons and daughters of the heavenly Father.

The invincibly living mystery of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is present and powerful in the Crucified Death of Christ.

That is why we always name the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as we make the sign of the Cross.

God, who is Love lifted up on the Cross, draws us all to himself, to his fulfillment of love on the Cross.

That is the lure, the beauty, the triumph and Exaltation of the Cross, though by nature it be a tool of defeat and shame.

God in Christ in his love on the cross freely chose to undergo, undertake and underlie all that is human even unto death.

This truth, this historical event has the power to draw all that is in our hearts, minds, strength and will.

We need to know, have, and return this love emptying itself on the Cross— love absolutely present and absolutely fulfilled in history, flesh and blood.

Here in the humble and exalted Eucharistic Flesh and Blood of Christ:

the power of the Spirit gives us birth and life in God;

the Father reveals and gives his love;

and the Son offers himself and our own humanity,

through the power of the Spirit,

to the Father with obedience and gratitude.

On his Cross, in his Resurrection, Ascension and Eucharist, Christ our God and Savior gives us triumph and exaltation.


Turn. Love. Repeat.



Dear Readers of “Turn. Love. Repeat.”

California where I reside had a new law go into effect on January 1, 2020. California Assembly Bill 5 forbids freelance writers, editors and photographers from providing more than 34 content submissions to a media organization per year unless the organization hires the freelancer as a salaried employee. Patheos is a media organization, and I am a freelancer. So now I must limit my posts to 34 per year, or 1 post about every 10 days.

So as not to exceed my legal limit, between my postings here at Patheos I will publish my “extra” pieces at my personal blog, Monk Notes.

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