“And I, when I am lifted up, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32
John’s Gospel understands Jesus’ self-offering on the cross as his exaltation. Thus he is “lifted up” as on a throne. An instrument of death that was meant to be a political statement of Rome’s power, that was meant to humiliate and destroy, becomes in the hands of God an invitation of total love, mercy and forgiveness.
Today’s feast presents us with an opportunity. We can, once again, claim our center as we are reawakened to the glory of the cross. It is there we discover the definitive statement of who God is in his very nature – the desire to draw all people to himself. In that act on the trash dump of Golgotha of all places, is a proclamation of pure love.
Do not mistake this for a passive God who is waiting for us to find him. Jesus taught us of a God who will not stop searching until we are found. God’s passion is you. Too often in history the Church has done a lot of grumbling about “sinners.” Nothing new there. Welcome to humanity. God’s emphasis, however, seems to be unmitigated joy by partying with us as we are found. So it is that we celebrate Eucharist.
The cross-event reveals with stark clarity the very nature of the activity of the divine love and manifests its character as directed to the welcome of all people. No exceptions. It is through the cross that we learn that God is love. The Letter to the Philippians, as it echoes Isaiah, understands the cross as the reclaiming of the universe to God’s sovereignty and glory. It is for the healing of the nations. It is also the vindication of Jesus who refused to regard equality with God a thing to be exploited, placing himself at the divine disposition.
As in Jesus, so it is our call to give ourselves to the obedience of God’s self-offering, demonstrating our willingness as God’s people to empty ourselves, take on the form of a servant, lay down our lives in order to give life, all out of a deeply developed and tended life flowing from a relationship with the living Christ. The cross shows us that the way to God is the way of self-giving love. The way of God’s love is the way of the cross, drawing all people to God’s very self.