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The Triumph of the Holy Cross

The Son of Man must be lifted up


The Word This Week

We will sometimes interrupt our usual cycle of Sundays for this Feast, which therefore also interrupts the usual pattern of readings. Today all the readings harmonise with the central theme, which is, of course, the cross. There are many ways of looking at the cross: as an instrument of torture and shame, as an emblem of death and defeat. But in the Church there has always been a way of looking at the cross which the world cannot under­stand: it is to see it as a sign of victory, of triumph, as a banner or standard of the forces of good and light as Jesus defeats the prince of this world by his death. The early Church depicted the cross as a richly jewelled emblem of victory; when the faithful looked at this jewelled cross, they knew that it was the sign of God's love and the Victory over sin and death that had been won for them.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Numbers 21:4‑9

This story is behind the reference Je­sus makes in today's Gospel, when talking with Nicodemus. There is an interesting paradox, which is repeated on Calvary and in the faith of the Church. It is the very emblem of death (the cross, the serpent) which becomes the source of life. This flowing together of death and life is a pow­erful but elusive idea. As a reader, it is not your job to draw out this understanding, but it is helpful if you know what this passage is about and how it links in with the Gospel and with this feast. If you read with understanding and awareness, this will help your listeners also to come to a level of understanding and awareness. You now know why this is read; but be aware that many people in the congre­gation this Sunday will not see the point of the first reading until Jesus quotes it in the Gospel. So be careful to read clearly and slowly, telling the story in its own right. If you tell it well, it will still be in people's minds when Jesus refers to Moses and the serpent in the Gospel.


Second Reading: Philippians 2:16‑11

This is a piece of poetry ‑ possibly even a hymn that the earliest communities would have sung together at worship. Each line (as printed in the Lec­tionary) has one word which is to be men­tally underlined. This is what will help you to convey meaning: so it starts:

“The state of Jesus Christ was divine,

yet he did not cling

to his equality with God

but emptied himself

to assume the condition of a slave

Don't emphasise these while reading – that would give a very ugly sound to the short lines ‑ but somehow aim for each emphatic word as the main meaning of each short line. The hymn-like quality of this passage becomes more obvious as you run through ‑ especially at the end, as it builds into this glorious outpouring of praise of Jesus, all offered “to the glory of God the Father.”

Sunday Mass Sheet

This is a two-sided A4 Mass Sheet, which when folded lengthways will give you a thin booklet. Please feel free to download this pdf file and print it out for Parish use.

Mass Sheet The Triumph of the Holy Cross (A)


 Click on the link to get this week's Gospel based Wordsearch. Feel free to copy and paste it into your parish publications.