Let’s look at an overview of today’s reading. Moses is out in the desert with the children of Israel. As their patience begins to dwindle, they begin to question the Lord asking him why he has “brought them here to die”. In response to the complaints the Lord sends serpents to earth and as a result many people die from the bites.
As the children of Israel begin to realize what they have done, they go back to Moses and the Lord, begging for forgiveness. The Lord, in response, tells Moses to build a Saraph and “mount it on a pole”. Whomever was bit, was simply to look at the Saraph and they would be healed.
It’s natural to look at this story with horror at first glance. How could the Lord our God send serpents from heaven to the children of God he was meant to be protecting? Is God punishing his people? These are the easy conclusions to draw. But the Lord asks us to look at scripture with open eyes to truly understand.
When you look at the reading and place it next to the gospel, you see the revelation of God in his asking of us to open our minds to the ideas spoken about in scripture. It helps you to see the story from the reading translated over to what Jesus practiced among the Pharisees. The Lord asks us to look at scripture as a channel of learning, which is why our interpretation of the scriptures are so important for our own spiritual growth.
Jesus explains in the gospel that he is not from the world “below” but rather the world “above” and if the Pharisees did not believe this, then they would die with their sin. Jesus spoke of his Father, and that he tells the world what his Father has told him. We see Jesus practice trust and faith in our Father, and proclaims that he has never left him alone, just as he will never leave any of us alone.
So what is the lesson in today’s reading? Let us go back to the beginning. The Lord brought the children of Israel to the desert to save them. The reading talks about how they begin to complain about the food and the length of the time they have been traveling in the desert. They then cry out to the Lord in pain, angry with the place they are in and the food (gifts) they have been given. The Lord sent the serpents out to remind them of their own humility. Their humility, which should have been defined as their modest outlook on themselves, had moved to selfishness. he Lord did not stop there, however, as the children of Israel began to comprehend their lack in this humility they asked the Lord for his forgiveness. Upon this questioning, the Lord reminded them that they must trust him, because he can save them, and that he does have a plan for them.
We now can understand the intent behind the Lords actions in scripture, but how does this correlate with our daily lives? Many times when we find ourselves having a bad day the first question we ask is “Why? Why me? Why now?” We find ourselves lacking in humility. It’s easy to start wondering things like “why” because we don’t believe we deserve to have these bad things happen to us.
In our daily lives we must look at each situation with God in mind. Everything might not always happen for a reason, or at least, not immediately. But God does not punish us. He asks us to trust him, he asks us to be one with him and realize, before we complain, that he has a plan for us. He will never steer us wrong. And even when it feels like we are dying, illustrated by the children of Israel in the reading, he will always save us. So next time you have a bad day, look at every terrible thing that happens, as an equal reaction to the amazing plan God has in store for us.