The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
“The people complained against God and Moses…In punishment the Lord sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died.” Numbers 21:5-6
Hundreds and thousands of Israelites were repeatedly destroyed because of their sins (see 1 Cor 10:8-10; Nm 25:1-9; 14:37). Their basic sin was idolatry, and a significant part of this sin was their craving for the food of slavery. They wanted meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, garlic (Nm 11:4-5), grain, figs, grapes, and pomegranates (Nm 20:5). The Israelites were disgusted with the “wretched” food God gave them (Nm 21:5). They complained about the manna God miraculously gave them each day for free.
Is an inordinate desire for food contributing to the sin of idolatry in your life? Ezekiel prophesied: “They shall not be allowed to satisfy their craving or fill their bellies, for this has been the occasion of their sin” (Ez 7:19). Paul spoke of people who “will end in disaster! Their god is their belly and their glory is in their shame” (Phil 3:19). He was talking about “enemies of the cross” (Phil 3:18), “those who are set upon the things of this world” (Phil 3:19). Paul warned us to avoid the company of those who cause dissension and scandal through deception and flattery (Rm 16:17-18). “Such men serve, not Christ our Lord, but their own bellies” (Rm 16:18). “My little children, be on your guard against idols” (1 Jn 5:21), including the idol of food.
Prayer: Father, as I fast this Lent, make me aware of temptations to gluttony and idolatry. Promise: “You belong to what is below; I belong to what is above. You belong to this world a world which cannot hold Me. That is why I said you would die in your sins. You will surely die in your sins unless you come to believe that I AM.” Jn 8:23-24 Praise: After confessing his sexual sin, Andrew was able, by the grace of God, to sin no more (see Jn 8:11).
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 2014.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements
The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
Do you know the healing power of the cross of Jesus Christ? When the people of Israel were afflicted with serpents in the wilderness because of their sin, God instructed Moses: “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8). The visible sign of the “fiery bronze serpent” being lifted up in the sight of the people reminded them of two important facts – sin leads to death and repentance leads to God’s mercy and healing. The lifting up of the bronze serpent on a wooden pole points to Jesus Christ being lifted up on the wooden cross at Calvary where he took our sins upon himself to make atonement to the Father on our behalf. The cross of Christ broke the curse of sin and death and won pardon, healing, and everlasting life for all who believe in Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world.
Either for him or against him
While many believed in Jesus and his message, many others, including the religious leaders, opposed him. Some openly mocked him when he warned them about their sin of unbelief. It’s impossible to be indifferent to Jesus’ word and his judgments. We are either for him or against him. There is no middle ground or neutral parties.
When Jesus spoke about “going away” he was referring to his return in glory to his Father in heaven. Jesus warned his opponents that if they continued to disobey God’s word and reject him, they would shut themselves off from God and die in their sins. Jesus’ words echoed the prophetic warning given to Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 3:18 and 18:18) when God warned his people to heed his word before the time is too late. God gives us time to turn to him and to receive his grace and pardon, but that time is right now.
To sin literally means to miss the mark or to be off target. The essence of sin is that it diverts us from God and from our true purpose in life – to know the source of all truth and beauty which is God himself and to be united with God in everlasting joy. When Adam and Eve yielded to their first sin of disobedience, they literally tried to hide themselves from God’s presence (Genesis 3:8-10). That is what sin does; it separates us from the One who is not only “all-seeing” and “ever present”, but who is also “all loving” and “merciful” and eager to receive us. When God calls you to turn your gaze and attention towards him, do you try to hide yourself from his presence with other distractions and excuses that keep you from seeking him and listening to his voice?
The proof of God’s love for us
Jesus went on to explain to people that if they could not recognize his voice when they heard his word, they would have the opportunity to recognize him when he is “lifted up” on the cross. Jesus pointed to the atoning sacrifice of his life on the cross as the true source of healing and victory over sin and reconciliation with God. The sacrifice of Jesus’ life on the cross is the ultimate proof of God’s love for us.
God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
To fail to recognize who Jesus is and where he came from is to remain in darkness – the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief. But if we look to Jesus and listen to his word of life and truth, then we will find the way to lasting peace and joy with God. The Lord Jesus invites each one of us to accept him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Our time here in this present world is very limited and short, but how we live it today has consequences not only for the present moment but for our eternal destiny as well. Which direction is your life headed in right now?
“Lord Jesus, you came to set us free from sin, doubt, fear, and ignorance. Your word brings life, truth, and healing to mind, heart, soul, and body. Let your healing love free me from the blindness of sin and disbelief and from the destructive force of evil and wrongdoing. May I always find peace, joy, and strength in knowing your merciful love, truth, and goddness.”