Memory of the Mother of the Lord

Ossza Meg


Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Numbers 21,4-9

They left Mount Hor by the road to the Sea of Suph, to skirt round Edom. On the way the people lost patience. They spoke against God and against Moses, 'Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in the desert? For there is neither food nor water here; we are sick of this meagre diet.' At this, God sent fiery serpents among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel. The people came and said to Moses, 'We have sinned by speaking against Yahweh and against you. Intercede for us with Yahweh to save us from these serpents.' Moses interceded for the people, and Yahweh replied, 'Make a fiery serpent and raise it as a standard. Anyone who is bitten and looks at it will survive.' Moses then made a serpent out of bronze and raised it as a standard, and anyone who was bitten by a serpent and looked at the bronze serpent survived.

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This passage in the book of Numbers recounts one of the most critical moments of Israel's journey in the desert. Exhausted by fatigue, the Israelites show their anger toward God and Moses. They even begin to regret the time of slavery in Egypt. We know well that regret for the past comes forward when the dream starts to fade, when one gives up on the vision and the project which God asks us to participate in. The nostalgia for the past and lament prevail over other feelings. And then poisonous serpents appear and bite and kill people. It is not God who sends the serpents. It is we who spread poison in the field of life with our tongues which become like those poisons serpents that can even kill. The awareness of sin pushes the Israelites to turn to Moses so that he intercedes before the Lord. And the Lord intervenes yet again. He makes Moses build a bronze serpent and plant it in the earth, so that whoever looks at it, after being bitten, is saved. The desert that had become a place of death also for the poison which the men spread, it is transformed in a place of salvation because of that serpent raised on a pole. Listening to the final words of this biblical page, we are sent back again in a direct way to the cross which in not so many days will be planted on Golgotha and which all of us are invited to contemplate and welcome in our hearts. In this time of Lent, the pages of the Bible which accompany us, day after day, are an effective help to purify our eyes to be able to turn them to "he who has been pierced" for our salvation.