These words from Pope Francis give us a beautiful explanation of how the Pure of Heart shall see God: “We need to renew our faith in the Lord: to look upwards, to look to him and to learn from his universal and crucified love… And so we come to this image: the serpent that saves. As the people are dying from the fiery serpents, God hears Moses’ prayer of intercession and tells him: “Make a fiery serpent and put it on a pole. If anyone is bitten and looks at it, he shall live” (Num 21:8). And indeed, “if anyone was bitten by a serpent, he looked at the bronze serpent and lived” (v. 9). Yet, we might ask: Why did God not simply destroy those poisonous serpents instead of giving these detailed instructions to Moses? God’s way of acting reveals to us his way of dealing with evil, sin, and distrust on the part of humanity… Jesus tells us in the Gospel: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14-15). This is the decisive shift: the serpent that saves has now come among us. Jesus lifted up on the cross pole, does not allow the poisonous serpents that attack us to cause our death: …if we keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, the sting of evil can no longer prevail over us… That was the Father’s response to the spread of evil in the world: he gave us Jesus, who drew near to us in a way we could never have imagined… Jesus, we could say, on the cross, “became a serpent” so that by gazing upon him, we might resist the poisonous bites of the evil serpents that assail us.
…To behold the crucified Jesus: From the heights of the cross, we can view our life and the history of our peoples in a new way… The outstretched arms of Jesus are the embrace of tender love with which God wishes to embrace us. They show us the way, the Christian way. It is not the way of imposition and force, of power and status; it never brandishes the cross of Christ against our brothers and sisters for whom he gave his life! Jesus’ way, the way of salvation, is different: it is the way of a humble gratuitous, and universal love, with no “ifs,” “ands” or “buts”. (14 September 2022)
📍 Memorial Church of Moses at Mt. Nebo, Jordan
✝️ Bible References: Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5; Numbers 21; Matthew 5, John 3:14; Galatians 3:13
🎵 Music: The In Between | Song by Matt Maher
🎼 Instrumental music by Diego Antonio