God greatly exalted him.

As Catholics, we place crucifixes everywhere: around our necks, on the walls of our home, and above the altar of every church. But like any familiar object, we can get so used to seeing the image of Christ crucified that it loses its impact. That’s why we need a special feast like today so that we can reflect on the immensity of Jesus’ sacrifice and the salvation it has accomplished for us.

Scholars believe that today’s second reading was probably taken from a hymn sung by the early Christians. Let’s use the words of this hymn to offer Jesus—who is now “greatly exalted” in heaven—our own hymn of praise and adoration (Philippians 2:9).

“Jesus, you are fully God, yet you became a man in order to save us. What did this cost you? You emptied yourself and took the form of a slave, all out of love for me (Philippians 2:7). What humility this required! And yet you gladly took on your Father’s mission because you knew that it was the only way to give me a share of your divine nature. Jesus, thank you for so great and weighty a gift!

“Jesus, you became ‘obedient to death, even death on a cross’ (Philippians 2:8). It wasn’t enough for you to take on our human nature. No, you had to experience the fate of every human being: death itself—and a tortured, painful, humiliating one at that! But you were the only One who could save us, so you willingly took our sins to the cross and reconciled us to the Father. Jesus, I praise and exalt you for your sacrifice, one that I don’t deserve and could never repay you for.

“Jesus, your Father bestowed on you ‘the name that is above every name’ (Philippians 2:9). Today, with all those in heaven and on earth, I bend my knee and confess you as my Lord (2:10-11). Your cross defeated sin and death. Now, even when I do sin, I know for certain that I can repent and receive your forgiveness.

“Jesus, I praise and exalt you, for by your holy cross you have redeemed me—and not only me, but all who have ever called upon your name!”

“Jesus, may every cross I see remind me of all that you have done for me.”

Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38
Philippians 2:6-11
John 3:13-17


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