Today’s first reading from Numbers 21 tells us the story of God sending saraph serpents among the people of Israel, who had become terrible whiners. God then commands Moses to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole. Whenever someone looked up at the serpent, they would be healed and live. In the Gospel reading from John 8, Jesus talks about the Son of Man being lifted up.”When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.”
Amazing how our lives parallel those of the Israelites. God has done so many awesome things for us, yet we, like them, tend to whine about the things that we don’t have. And so, as the serpents went about biting the people, so, too, do we let the serpent (Satan) bite us. Then there is the final parallel. Remember that the people of Israel had only to look up (at the bronze serpent in this case) and they would live. The same is true for us. When we look up (at the Son of Man), we, too will live.
When someone is bitten by a poisonous snake, there is an antidote – antivenin. These readings remind us that there is also an antidote for sins – Jesus. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we receive that spiritual antivenin through absolution. We don’t have to die in our sins (see the Gospel reading). The antidote is readily available.
Father, forgive us for those times we allow the serpent into our lives. May we humbly receive the antidote that is always there for us. Amen.