Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, hearing how the people of Israel rebelled against God and disobeyed Him when they grumbled and complained against Him as they journeyed through the desert from Egypt. They complained that they had a better life in Egypt even though over there they were slaves and were treated badly.
They did all these even though the Lord had in fact treated them very kindly, patiently answering their pleas and requests, giving them daily the bread from heaven itself, and also other food and plenty of water to drink in their journey through the desert. The Lord took good care of His people and patiently cared for them only to gain contempt, betrayal and disobedience, rebellion and wickedness in return.
The Lord then sent fiery serpents that were disastrous in their effects on the people, as many were bitten by those serpents and died. Those serpents killed many and the people begged the Lord for mercy, asking Moses to intercede for their sake. The Lord had pity on His people and showed them His clemency through instructing Moses to build a great bronze serpent standard, and lifting it up before the whole people that all those who had been bitten and saw the bronze serpent would be saved.
This is related to our Gospel passage today in which we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking plainly to the people and all gathered about what would happen to Him. Those Jews were the ones living in Judea and many of them supported the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in opposition against Jesus. They doubted Him and refused to believe in Him, demanding to see miracles and signs from Him even when He had done all those wonders before them all.
And the Lord then revealed to all of them how He would be lifted up high above the Earth, a prelude to what He would endure during His Passion namely when He would be scourged, stripped and nailed to the Cross, and lifted up on the hill of Calvary, for all the same people to whom the Lord had spoken, to see the ultimate and greatest of all the signs of God’s wonders and love.
What is the significance of this, brothers and sisters? It is just like the lifting of the bronze serpent of Moses in the past through which the people were saved from the deadly sting of the serpents, thus, the Lord also had Himself lifted up so that all those who see Him, believe in Him and have faith in Him will be saved from certain death and destruction from the sting of sin.
This is therefore an important reminder for each and every one of us that we are all called to shun the temptations to sin, the allure and pull of its corruption, and all the things that have led us to our downfall, and the downfall of so many who came and went before us. As we approach the beginning of the Holy Week in less than a week’s time, we are all called to reflect deeply of the Lord’s Passion, all that He had done, out of His great love for us.
It is thanks to Him, His enduring love and great patience that each and every one of us still have hope, the hope of entering into a new and blessed existence free from sin, and one that is no longer corrupted by those wicked and evil taints of the world. The Lord has willingly taken up His Cross, bearing our many sins and their consequences and punishments, all because of His love for us. If not for Him, we should have been lost to despair and the darkness.
That is why we should appreciate the love of God and everything that He had done for us, and we must not take the opportunities that He has given us for granted, or else, we may find it that we are too late to realise how fortunate we are to have been beloved by God and to have received so many good opportunities from Him. We need turn towards the Lord, look at Him crucified and remember the love by which He selflessly took up that sacrifice in order to save all of us.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we can also be inspired by the good examples set by St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, one of our holy predecessors. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo was a great and renowned Archbishop, who was once also the confessor and trusted advisor of the King of Spain. He was credited with the conversion of numerous people, many of whom he personally preached to and worked with. He dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the improvement of the life of his flock, and committed himself to care for them.
St. Turibius de Mogrovejo travelled extensively throughout his diocese and beyond, often on foot and baptising many, taking care of the spiritual needs of those whom he had encountered throughout his ministry. He established many chapels, convents, hospitals and schools for the benefit of many people, and many indeed were helped and touched by the actions of this saintly bishop that they became converts and believers.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards the Lord with a new heart and desire to follow Him, inspired by the good examples of the saints, particularly that of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo. May the Lord be our guide that we may journey successfully through life with faith, and focusing our attention from now on, to the Lord and His saving grace. Let us always remember all the sufferings and humiliations that Our Lord had to face in order to save us all, out of His enduring and ever-present love for us. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.