Guest blogger: SM Albertine Stachowski
Both readings today are linked by similar circumstances and images.
After being freed from slavery in Egypt … with Moses as their leader … the Israelites set out for the Promised Land. They believed that God would deliver them. That journey through the desert was a very long and difficult one. Eventually … they only saw the hardships … lost faith … complained bitterly … and lost sight of the goal. They were “disgusted with” the manna God had provided for them. So God punished them with deadly serpents. But they repented and God gave them a way to be brought back into relationship with Him. They could be healed by the very sign that assailed them … they needed to gaze at the serpent Moses mounted on a pole.
In the Gospel … the Pharisees closed themselves off from God. They had hard hearts and were blind to the message of salvation. Jesus spoke of the importance of repentance and conversion and promised eternal life … the Promised Land … to those who listened … believed … and followed. Jesus was the food for their souls … but they refused Him. Here too … God provided a way for them to be brought back into relationship with God. Here too … there would be a pole … the cross … upon which Jesus would be mounted … that would be the instrument of salvation for all who would follow His way.
And look at us in our time. We are fed with the Bread of Life … the Eucharist. In the sign of the cross … in the crucifix … we have the visual reminder of the price paid for our sins … the sign of our redemption.
In the remaining days of Lent … may we gaze on the cross as a sign of hope. May our vision be clear enough to lead us to conversion of heart and true peace of mind.