Today is March 31st Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent. This is Fr George with some simple words on the Word of God. In today’s gospel we see Jesus in an encounter with the Pharisees as time rapidly approaches the events we know as Holy Week. [Note: not my normal start, but this is the draft of a daily reflection video made for our parishioners. I thought: “why not post it?”]
This morning I want to direct your attention to the life of goodness that surrounds you in family, friends, and fellowship – still there even in these days of loss and isolation. Can you see it?
When Jesus says to Pharisees, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM”, he is not only pointing to the divine nature displayed in all his works, his miracles, his teaching, but he is pointing ahead to the Cross when their choice for life will be through the death of one man. But the Pharisees just can’t see it. And if they can’t see it now, what will they believe when they see the contradiction of the cross. It is and will be a “fish or cut bait” moment for the Pharisees.
But Jesus is also pointing back to the first reading – a story of the Exodus from Egypt to the Holy Land.
The people of Israel have had the protection of God and whenever they were in need, there was a divine supply of their needs. Yet they just can’t see it. They are ready to return to Egypt and take up the certainty of a roof over their heads and meals, even if it means slavery. They are ready to trade in Yahweh for the gods of Egypt.
One Egyptian deity, Apep the snake god, was the god of death, darkness, but also oddly enough the god of medicine and healing. But there was one catch: worshipers were not to look upon the snake god. To raise their eyes and look on the snake was to receive the judgment of death from Apep and know eternal darkness. To keep one’s eyes cast down in worship was to know healing and live.
The command from Moses for those who had been bitten by the fiery serpents was to “fish or cut bait” so to speak. They had been bitten by a poisonous snake and will die unless the power of healing embraces them. Where will they look for healing?
The snake god said never to raise your eyes, but to remain bowed in worship to a false god in order to be healed. Moses said to raise your eyes to the symbol of the false snake god raised up for healing – such a contraction. Will they risk death, but have faith that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would heal them?
Come Holy Week and Easter when the contradiction begin to pile up, Jesus betrayed, arrested, scourged and finally lifted up on the cross will you raise your eyes to the contradictions in faith? Will you see death or will you see arms outstretched to heal and embrace you?
The people of Exodus just couldn’t or wouldn’t see it. The Pharisees, too
What about you? Will you raise your eyes and choose life?
Can you see it?