Holy Cross Day
I think of Moses’ serpent as a vaccine, a way of inoculation.
One rule is to just stay away from snakes.
But then another rule is when in the midst of snakes, stay focused.
How do we become inoculated in the world? What do we seek to be inoculated from? Where are our contemporary snakes?
Moses’ snake is a form of power. It is a form of grace. Grace is a way of talking about power: God’s power and our harnessing of it.
Or salvation, which may be a way of talking about having some space, some breathing room, some margins to move around in. Making a little more room; not so much we lose a sense of integrity or lose our ability to act clearly, but enough so that we can see more clearly.
In Numbers, people can’t stand the change. Who died? Moses makes a symbol which seems to say: take a look at the real thing here! Don’t avoid the problems. 21:9 So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
In Corinthians it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
I think of all the pundits writing about Syria. Even the ones I like. When we talk about signs and wisdom, we seem to be avoiding the problem of our own passions. Christ Crucified is the clue: how our passions make it so easy to kill our neighbor.
We’re reading John 3:13-17. Most people emphasize 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” In order to protect their being elected. You believe, you go to heaven. But the next sentence is the kicker: 3:17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Salvation, not condemnation. Once it happened, the world could change. One person at a time: do you love or hate? Can we be inoculated from the varieties of hate that destroy the lives around us? Can you handle the truth of the passion and then choose eternal life?