Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A Sign for Us

If you’ve ever flown at night across a wide expanse of ocean, you may have felt a bit of relief when you looked out the window and saw the far off lights of coastal villages. You may have glimpsed your destination airport’s lights tracing rectangles in the dark. Seeing the lights raised a natural sort of hope in your heart. Today the reading from Book of Numbers gave hope to a people worn out from their desert journey. They railed against God and Moses because they had another set-back. They had to make a detour around the Edomites. In their complaints about the food, the lack of abundant water, and the sameness of their diet, they sinned against the Lord. Many were bitten by poisonous snakes whose bite was fiery—the Seraph snakes. When the people cried out for mercy, God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole. When Moses did that, people who just looked at the pole were healed from the serpent’s bite.(See the Book of Numbers 21:4--9) Jesus referred to this when he said, “I, when I will be lifted up, will draw all to myself.” As the lights which pierce the darkest night, or as the bronze snake lifted high to heal, so Jesus lifted high on the cross, cures us. He gives us his Word to heal our minds, his example to heal our wills, his own Body and Blood in the Eucharist to nourish and sustain us.
My oldest sister has a Greek Orthodox friend. Her living room is dominated by an icon crucifix. The right arm extends over the fireplace, and the Savior’s head is bowed to the right. The mere size of that crucifix compels you to gaze at it and to contemplate why is that Man on the cross? You needn’t have an almost life-size crucifix, a small one suffices. However it is helpful for our spiritual life to have a wall crucifix to remind us when we enter our homes who is our Healer and our Lord. Have a blessed day.

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