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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

The Good Serpent (A Perspective on Covid-19 Part 38)

Today’s readings:

Numbers 21:4-9

Psalm 78:1-2,34-38

Philippians 2:6-11

John 3:13-17

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

September 14, 2020

COVID-19 is chastisement from God due to the great sin and evil that is in the world today. God’s intent is to bring people to repentance, starting with making them think about and realize how they have strayed away from Him. God shows humankind their utter helplessness, with the whole world coming to a standstill due to an invisible pathogen.

While the world searches desperately for a cure, perhaps a vaccine, what is important is for people to turn back to God. God can make the pandemic disappear in a flash (as it came in a flash), either miraculously or through the natural process of enabling people to come up with the cure.

The Israelites had “complained against God and Moses.” (Nm 21:5a). After all God had done for them, this effectively was rebellion, ingratitude, disobedience and lack of trust. So God punished them. “So the Lord sent among the people seraph serpents which bit the people so that many of the Israelites died.” (Nm 21:6). What happened then? “When he slew them, they began to seek him; they again looked for God.” (Ps 78:34). The people realized their sin. “We have sinned in complaining against the Lord and you.” (Nm 21:7a). Then the people realized that only God could save them. “Pray to the Lord to take the serpents from us.” (Nm 21:7b). “They remembered that God was their rock, God Most High, their redeemer.” (Ps 78:35).

There are lessons for us today.

* God does punish serious iniquity. God does send chastisement upon His people for sin, including in the form of pestilence.

* The God who gives life will allow death to come as punishment.

* This is God’s way of catching our attention and hopefully getting us to mend our ways.

* The way forward and the way out for us is to recognize our sin, to repent, and to turn to God for redemption.

Moses, upon instruction from God, made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole for people to see, and those who did so recovered (Nm 21:8-9). Now this was a prefigurement for the crucifixion of Jesus. “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:14-15). In Jesus, if we repent and turn to faith in him, is our life on earth preserved and our life in heaven assured.

This is all about the love of God. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16). Mind you, God loves people, which are His creation. God brought them to life, and would like them to attain to eternal life. But if they turn away from Him, then God chastises. This is due to His mercy and love. His punishment is meant to turn people back to Him. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (Jn 3:17).

So where is our salvation? It is only in Jesus. Jesus went to the cross and died for us, winning for us our salvation. In doing so, “he emptied himself, …. he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:7a,8). How are we saved, even from COVID-19? We look to Jesus, with appropriate lessons learned.

* We need to empty ourselves of our human pride, especially in light of human advances and achievements. Apart from God we are nothing.

* We need to turn back in obedience to God. Only His ways and His laws can preserve us from death and the darkness of sin.

* We exalt the Holy Cross of Jesus, as we embrace our crosses daily. We die to self, in order to live for Christ in this world and to live with Christ eternally in heaven.

God is a God of mercy, love and compassion. He forgives sins. He takes back those who have rejected Him. He is most patient with us. “But God being compassionate forgave their sin; he did not utterly destroy them. Time and again he turned back his anger, unwilling to unleash all his rage.” (Ps 78:38). But we cannot simply hope that God will not chastise us further, as He has already done numerous times through salvation history.

The world today is steeped in darkness and sin. We must know what arouses the wrath of God.

* Deception and lies. “But they deceived him with their mouths, lied to him with their tongues.” (Ps 78:36). The world today has called good what is bad and bad what is good. Even within our Church, liberals teach what is contrary to the Bible and age-old teachings of the Church.

* Inconstancy, lukewarmness, double-mindedness. “Their hearts were not constant toward him” (Ps 78:37a). Many Catholics are lapsed, living more according to the world than according to authentic faith. They give God lip service, but do not build themselves on the Rock that is Christ.

* Infidelity to the covenant. “They were not faithful to his covenant.” (Ps 78:37b). Many Catholics have turned away from God, are violating His commands, and not living out His ways. They are apostates.

“Attend, my people, to my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.” (Ps 78:1). Repent. Turn to Jesus in faith. Build your house on Rock.

* * *


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