Bishop’s Homily for the Mass of 8 April 2014

Bishop’s Homily for the Mass of 8 April 2014. Readings: Num 21:4-9; Ps 102: 2-3, 16-18, 19-21; John 8:21-30
In today’s first reading, we are given a description of how the Israelites had grown “impatient” with the hot desert and the miserable food and had complained against God. Tiring of them, God sent seraph serpents amongst the people. Many who were bitten died. Others hovered near death. The people recognized they had sinned by doubting God’s providence.
The Gospel tells how Jesus compared Himself to that “lifted up” serpent.
In his homily on these two readings, Bishop Robert F. Vasa observed, “We have two lifting ups in the readings today.
“The first is Moses lifting up a bronze serpent so that those bitten by the seraphs might recover of the bite from those poisonous snakes.
“And then we have Christ saying He Himself will be lifted up. In another Gospel passage, He says, ‘Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so will the Son of Man be lifted up.
“There is a difference between the two, however. In one, the serpent is lifted up so that the people, in their woundedness, would look at that serpent and realize the enormity of their sin and come to repentance.
“When Christ is lifted up, it is so that we might look upon Him and likewise be aware of our sinfulness. But rather than seeing our sins, the serpent, we see our hope in the Lord, the Lord Who is kind and merciful and forgiving.
“So the serpent is a sign to the people of the cause of their condemnation. Jesus is a sign to us of the cross, a sign of our redemption.”