April 9, 2019
Editors Note: Well, I messed up and asked two people to write reflections for today. So...your holiness will be multiplied times two today!
You will quickly discover that I didn’t make it this far because of my literary skills; I write like a doctor:
The first reading, from the Old Testament [Numbers 21:4-9] is the story of The Bronze Serpent. It is the last of a number of historical accounts of when the Israelites complained against God, He sent judgement upon them, they repented of their sin and He forgave them and delivered them. Here, the Israelites, who followed Moses into the desert during their exodus from Egypt, are growing weary. They spoke out against God and Moses saying, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” [Numbers 21:5]. Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many sons of Israel died. The people repented to Moses, who prayed for his people. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it up as a sign; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” [Numbers 21:8].
The gospel reading, from the Book of John [8:21-30], is about the dispute over who Jesus is, or Jesus’ relation to the Father. Jesus went to the Mount of Olives and visited the temple where the people were waiting for him. The scribes and the Pharisees were among them and questioned Jesus many times, in an effort to trick him. Jesus alludes to His death saying, “I go away, and you will seek me and die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come” [John 8:21]. They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Even what I have told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge; but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he spoke to them of the Father [John 8:25-27].
Usually, when I hear the daily readings from the Old Testament and the Gospel, the connection is very clear for me—that wasn’t the case with today’s readings. I kept reading the passages and would walk away without answers. I prayed for inspiration and the Holy Spirit encouraged me to read the entire Book of John. Earlier in his gospel, John writes of Jesus saying, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” [John 3:14-15]. “When you have lifted up the Son of man (His passion, resurrection and ascension), then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me” [John 8:28].
St. Anthony Church Parishioner (and member of the clean up day work crew)
As Moses lead the Israelites on the Red Sea Road, they became inpatient and weary of hunger and thirst. The Lord punished them by sending Saraph serpents.
Many died from poisonous bites, so they complained again. Moses told them to pray that God would take the serpents away. The Lord told Moses to make a Saraph and mount it on a pole, whenever anyone was bitten and looked at the pole they would recover.
The Readings from the Old Testament are often hard to understand why the punishments are so harsh. Most of us prefer the New Testament. I prefer the forgiving, loving and caring God, I grew up with. The morale, for me is, be grateful for what you have, complaining is selfishness.
Jesus tried so hard to make his followers understand that He was not of this world. Repeatedly he told them, “If you do not believe that ‘I Am’ You will die in your sins.”
It was hard for them to fathom the Jesus belonged in heaven with his Father. We belong on Earth trying for follow his example and pray for forgiveness of our sins.
St. Anthony Parishioner (and coordinator of the McAnthony Window clothes, food, and toiletries donations)