thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Readings found here
We are our own worst enemy. While people are capable of amazing feats, works of art and technology, and acts of self sacrifice, we are also prone to pettiness, selfishness, and foolishness. As we get close to the liturgies of Holy Week, the readings have been reminding us of why we need a Savior. Today, in Numbers we are reminded of the foolishness, ingratitude, and infidelity of the people in the desert. Just liberated from slavery by the miraculous intervention of God, here they are complaining about the food. It's tempting when reading this passage to observe that no snake can outdoor the human capacity to "bite" with our words and actions. Of course, the passage contrasts the infidelity of the people with the compassion of God Who delivers them from the effect of their sin. (It's also interesting to note that this passage offers us that symbol of the serpent and the pole that become a regular part of our medical iconography).
The truth that God's people are too often unwilling to entrust ourselves to God is also on display in the passage from John. We have been hearing Jesus debate His opponents. His frustration is palpable as they are making the same mistake over and over again. Rather than open their hearts to the revelation of God's presence and will, they cling to their own agenda. They find every reason to oppose Jesus. And that opposition will have deadly effects as well will recall next week. The miracle is that the Lord Jesus lives compassion even in the face of opposition and rejection. He will not fail but will win our victory by His steadfast faith.
When we hear the gospels, we might prefer to imagine that we are like the faithful ones in the story - the ones who followed and loved the Lord. And maybe there is truth to that. Yet we also need to acknowledge that really we are all of the characters in the story and that we have as much in common with the opponents and the complainers as we do with the disciples. We are indeed our own worst enemies. Good thing we have a faithful friend in the Lord Who saves us from ourselves.