FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,
When he killed them, they sought for him; they repented and sought God earnestly. They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not true to his covenant. Yet he, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them; often he restrained his anger, and did not stir up all his wrath.
Brothers and sisters:
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just 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.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
In the book of Numbers we read about how the Israelites were just like us. When things got tough they became impatient, and complained about God and his chosen leader. They quickly forgot about all that God had done for them and all the miracles that proved his power, that he was watching over them and was not going to abandon them. It was a fleshly thing that tipped them over the edge. They did not like the food. They were ungrateful to have the food God gave them and it was not until serpents came to bite them that they perceived what real trouble was and that they needed to go to God and humbly ask for protection again.
Sometimes we drift away from God or become ungrateful. We get tired and impatient waiting for what we want or have been promised. It takes a real emergency to cause us to see that we have left a sense of gratitude and we return to our senses and stop complaining. We have to take up our cross and go forward trusting that though things may be difficult, God is there and will lead us to the greener pastures.
Let us pray for the grace to have gratitude not only when things are going our way and we feel fine but also when we are suffering and undergoing trials so that our purification can release new levels of faith in us to bring the kingdom of God to others in the world.