March 15, 2016

March 15

March 15, 2016:  Tuesday, 5th week, Lent

  • 'Serpent' tie pin:  Bronze serpent (1st reading)
  • 'I ♥ my dad' tie:  Jesus always does what pleases the Father (gospel)
  • 'Crown' tie bar:  "All kings shall revere your glory" (psalm)
  • Purple shirt and suspenders:  Lenten season
For the psalm
The 1st reading features the serpent symbol twice:  The Lord told Moses, "Make a bronze serpent and mount it so whoever looks at it will live."  God doesn’t kill the serpents but leaves them alone, but a person harmed by one can look at the bronze serpent and be healed.  ‘Lift up’ is at the heart of the argument between Christ and the Pharisees described in today's gospel.  Jesus says, "When you lift up the Son of Man, you'll realize I AM."  ‘I AM’ is the name God used to describe himself to Moses.
The serpent is a symbol of sin.  Paul said Jesus emptied, humiliated, and annihilated himself to save us.  "He became sin."  He became a serpent.  The Son of Man, who like a serpent "became sin," is raised up to save us.  This is the story of our redemption, of God’s love.  To know God’s love, look at the Cross, a man being tortured, a God emptied of his divinity, dirtied by sin, but who defeats evil, the 'ancient serpent.'  Sin is Satan's work.  Jesus defeats Satan by “becoming sin” and lifting all of us up.  The Cross is the Mystery of God’s annihilation for love.  And the serpent that makes a prophecy in the desert is salvation; it is raised up and whoever looks at it is healed.  This is done through the suffering of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. 
  • Nm 21:4-9  The children of Israel complained, “Why did you bring us to die in this desert with its wretched food?!”  In punishment the Lord sent saraph serpents; many died from their bites.  The people told Moses, “We've sinned in complaining.  Pray the Lord to take the serpents away.”  After Moses prayed, the Lord told him, “Mount a saraph; whoever looks at it will live.” He did; it worked.
  • Ps 102:2-3, 16-21  "O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you."  The Lord looked down to hear the groaning of the prisoners and release those doomed to die.
  • Jn 8:21-30  Jesus to Pharisees:  “I'm going away.  I don't belong to this world.  If you don't believe I AM, you'll die in your sins.  I say only what the Father taught me.  The one who sent me is with me.  I do what is pleasing to him.”  Many came to believe.
      • Creighton:  "Less is more":  Jesus simply tells the Pharisees, “I AM.”  Maybe the greatest things don't come from grandiosity....
      • One Bread, One Body:  "The Father's mouthpiece":  Jesus only said what the Father taught him.  As Jesus' disciples, we imitate him.  If we pay attention, the Father will teach us what to say.  "I will assist you in speaking and teach you what to say."  "I place My words in your mouth."  God often speaks in a quiet voice, easily drowned out in the world.  Do whatever it takes to listen attentively and live on every word from God.
        Moses and the Brazen Serpent/ Bourdon

      • Passionist:  John the Evangelist goes beyond identifying Jesus as the Prophet to come, beyond the Christ, the anointed to bring the reign of God, beyond Son of David.  We enter the realm of mystery:  “I don't belong to this world; I belong to what's above.”  We must believe Jesus is the I AM, God's presence revealed to Moses.  In his official prayer for the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis prays we hear Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman:  “If only you knew God's gift!”  Anoint us with your Spirit so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace, and your Church may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives, and restore sight to the blind.”
      •  "When you have lifted up the Son of man":  When Israel was afflicted with serpents because of their sin, God instructed Moses to make a serpent for people to look at to recover.  The sign reminded them that sin leads to death and repentance to God's mercy and healing.  The lifting up of the serpent points to Jesus being lifted up on the cross to break the curse of sin and death and win pardon, healing, and life.  Many opposed Jesus and his message.  Some mocked him when he warned them about their sin of unbelief.  It's impossible to be indifferent; we're either for or against Jesus' word and judgments.  When Jesus spoke of "going away" he was referring to his return to his Father; he warned his opponents that if they continued to disobey, they'd shut themselves off from God.  Jesus' words echoed the prophesy to Ezekiel to heed God's word.  God gives us time to turn to him and receive grace and pardon, but the time is now.  'Sin' means 'miss the mark,' 'be off target'; it diverts us from God and our purpose, to know and be united with God.  When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they tried to hide themselves; sin separates us from the all-seeing, ever present, all-loving, merciful God so eager to receive us.  Jesus explained that if they couldn't recognize his voice. they would when he's "lifted up" on the cross.  His sacrifice brought victory over sin and reconciliation with God; it proves God's love for us.  If we look to Jesus and listen to his word, we'll find peace and joy with God....

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