Readings: Num 21:4-9; Jn 8:21-30
"Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover." Num 21:8
Did you ever have a hard time getting rid of the hiccups? You probably tried many of the purported cures. Holding your breath, drinking water, putting sugar on your tongue, eating peanut butter, drinking with your head down. ... No matter how unlikely the cure seemed, if you trusted the source of the remedy, you'd probably give it a whirl.
The Israelites in our first reading have a much more serious problem to remedy: some of them were dying from serpent bites. The Lord had sent saraphs as a punishment for their grumbling and ingratitude. After the Lord had delivered them from Egypt and miraculously fed them with manna and water in the desert, they even complained about the "wretched food" (Num 4:5).
The people knew that, if they repented, God would forgive them. So, they asked Moses to intercede for them.
What was their unlikely cure? Looking at the bronze serpent mounted on a pole. How odd that a model of the creature that causes death would bring about their recovery! Who would bother to try this cure? Those with faith in the Lord and His prophet.
Today's Gospel reading tells us of a similar "lifting up" that is a remedy for our sin. The Cross — the very symbol of painful death — is now our source for healing! What better time than Lent to fix our gaze upon the Cross? Want to know about its spiritual health benefits? Here's some of what St. Faustina records in her Diary:
In difficult moments, I will fix my gaze upon the silent Heart of Jesus, stretched upon the Cross, and from the exploding flames of His merciful Heart, will flow down upon me power and strength to keep fighting (906).
My dear Lord Jesus, I look to You who transformed the Cross of death into a sign of my salvation. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.
Diary of St. Faustina