Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Today we hear the account of the Isrealites complaining in the desert and being bitten by serpents as a result. (Nm 21) In a manner that surely must have been inspirational to Dante as he composed the Inferno, a fitting punishment is alotted to those who complain that the Lord does not give them what they want. Those who complain about the Lord’s gifts are given something to complain about. And yet, as Dante recognizes in the Purgatorio, the means of condemnation often become the means of redemption. In a most bizarre twist, the healing of the people comes as a result of looking upon a brazen saraph serpent. As I imagine what it would be like to have to embrace such a cure, I wince. Surely, it must have been difficult for the people to look upon the image of the repulsive serpent that was the result of their sin.
Yet the Lord does not flinch when He gazes upon the difficulties of our misery. “The LORD looked down from His holy height, from heaven He beheld the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die.” (Ps 102:19-21) The Lord embraces our cries, our trials, our doom in order to set us free.
It should cause us as Christians to wince when we look upon the Cross, when we see Christ lifted up. (Jn 8:28) It should take us aback to know that our actions have played a causal part in such violence. The sight of the Cross should also provide us with healing. In the desert the Isrealites looked upon a reminder of their punishment. On the Cross we look upon the Redeemer of our sins. He has loved us enough to take on even death for our sake. May we turn to Christ constantly to ask for a share of His Spirit of generosity and love.
April 4th, 2017