From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’ Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’ 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.
Today is Tuesday the 9 April in the Fifth Week of Lent.
The monks of Glenstal Abbey sing: Crux fidelis. Faithful cross, above all other, the one noble tree. None in foliage, nor in blossom, nor in fruit offers more: sweetest wood and sweetest iron, sweetest weight is hung on thee!
Today’s reading is from the Book of Numbers.
Today’s reading is a difficult one. It’s easy to ask how God could be so vindictive as to punish the people like that. Is this your first reaction?
Perhaps a better focus is on ingratitude. The people are struck down by their own ingratitude towards a God who has freed them. Instead of rejoicing in their freedom and thanking God for all that He has done in their lives they instead complain about the quality of life they find away from Egypt and yet the truth of the matter is that their post-Egyptian life is of a much higher quality because they are free. Free to worship God and able to live as free men and women. Is this ingratitude something you struggle with?
As you listen again, can you hear what this story might foretell?
It’s not good to complain or to be ungrateful but we must also be honest in our relationship with God and pray that He might end human suffering and injustice. In these last few moments of prayer, spend some time talking with the Lord about how he wants you to act in the world over the next days and weeks.