Today’s first reading from Numbers is the story of the people being bitten by snakes in the wilderness. Moses fashions a bronze serpent, holds it up and whoever looks upon it lives. Whatever we might think of the likelihood of this happening, the point the story is the power of God to heal and save.
‘No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’
Moses’ holding up the serpent links directly with John’s important theological idea of Jesus being ‘lifted up’ on the cross. Jesus is presented as the one who brings healing through suffering and glory. When Jesus is lifted up people will see that his claims about his close relationship with his Father are true.
We don’t always connect suffering and glory in our own lives. But we do recognise the power of love to heal us. Christ’s self-emptying love is there in the everyday if we can take time to slow down and see it. There are moments when Christ is ‘lifted up’ in the small kindnesses and acts of self-giving love. The invitation today is to be open to those moments.