The Israelites in their forty years in the desert were journeying from captivity to freedom, but the struggle of their desert years made them vulnerable to attack from every temptation. ref. today’s first reading.
The Genesis account of sin entering the world tells of the serpent as the tempter.
“There were fiery serpents among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel. The people came and said to Moses, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede for us with the Lord to save us from these serpents.”… So Moses fashioned a bronze serpent which he put on a standard, and if anyone was bitten by a serpent, he looked at the bronze serpent and lived.”
Note that the people had to look up to confront the very thing that they feared face-to-face in order to be saved. It was serpents that they feared, but they were able to live only when they faced the serpent that had been lifted up on the standard.
I’ve commented before that good spirituality never contradicts good psychology (and good psychology never contradicts good spirituality).
Perhaps this is a good testing ground for the good spirituality / good psychology adage.
Facing a spider (and even handling it) can surprisingly overcome arachnophobia. Facing the bully (with good support) can heal the hurt, and facing suffering and death is the pathway to resurrection.
Picking ourselves up to stand before Jesus, imagining ourselves looking him in the face as we humbly pray, can be a great first step when we are not sure how to move forward.
There is a general practice in the Liturgy of the Mass for people to always stand when praying aloud together, even when praying the most humble prayers: think of “I confess,” “Lamb of God….have mercy on us” and (just before communion) “Lord I am not worthy,” all prayed by a congregation standing ready for divine action.
Christian faith is for we sinners who know that our hope is in humbly standing before and looking up to the one who saves.
This reminds me of the account of Jesus in the temple (Luke 21) telling of the destruction surrounding the community…““The time is coming when all these things will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”…then a few verses later the people are warned against wallowing in their misfortune with the clear instruction directly from Jesus: “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”.
And, as a priest, I know that a guaranteed way to get people to stand as an automatic response is simply to say “let us pray.”
FFF IN THE CAFE… Send your name and the name of a cafe or bar to firstname.lastname@example.org Scribble FFF on a table napkin, take a seat and wait.
DROP IN FOR A CHAT:
Tuesday 28 March 2023
5,30pm at Vondel, 8 Victoria Road, Devonport, Auckland. (Directions). Francisca
Wednesday 29 March 2023
10.30am at Cafe 28, 28 Cornwall St, Lower Hutt, (Directions) Catherine
Thursday 30 March 2023
10.30am at Zest Cafe Greeton 187 Chadwick Rd, Tauranga. (Directions) Frances
Monday 3 April 2023 (and every Monday)
10.00am at Moko (Kudos) in the Bush Inn Centre Christchurch (Directions) Trish
Tuesday 11 April 2023 (and second Tuesday of every month)
10.30am at Zenders 44 Hopkins Road, Newstead, Hamilton (Directions). Christina
Sunday 23 April 2023
11.00am at The Bakehouse 74 Main Street, Fairlie. (Directions) Fr. Tien Cao.
The Serpent on the standard as far as I know is the emblem of the Medical Profession.
I must admit that there are times in my 81 years of attending Mass that my responses have been automatic like wearing a mantel of habit. Thank you, Father John, for all the insights you give daily.
Wish I could see clearly as you & so many of the people who follow your reflections.
Another challenging Lent with your FFT
THE REFLECTION for the Annunciation was tops and plenty of thoughts outside the box.
Must be time for you to cross the ditch.
Such a good reflection
Such a good reflection on recognising the need of others