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Israelites and My Kids

First Reading: Numbers 21:4-9

From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road,
to bypass the land of Edom.
But with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
“We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us.”
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live.”
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21

R. (2) O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
O LORD, hear my prayer,
and let my cry come to you.
Hide not your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
in the day when I call, answer me speedily.
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.

Gospel: John 8:21-30

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come.”
So the Jews said,
“He is not going to kill himself, is he,
because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?”
He said to them, “You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins.”
So they said to him, “Who are you?”
Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true,
and what I heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them,
“When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me.
He has not left me alone,
because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.

NAB

mar 15

This morning, I’m reading these words and asking the Spirit to speak through me in the devotional, and all I hear are my kids’ voices in the Israelites. Whine, moan, complain. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to bits. They have sweet, amazing voices . . . but when they complain, it grates on my ears. Just yesterday, one of my girls complained that something wouldn’t work, so I offered another way. Nope, that wasn’t pleasing. I offered another possibility, which was the only remaining option, and got shot down again. Straight out of my mouth came the words, “Well, quit your complaining!”

I wouldn’t be too surprised if God did a head-smack while listening to the complaints of the people He had just delivered from the hands of the Egyptians. For their ungratefulness, He sent serpents to bite them. Some died.

Later in history, Jesus tells the people they will die in their sins. See the connection? In Jesus’ day, people weren’t dying from snake bites, but their hearts were dead from sin. Our hearts can die from sin.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The Israelites didn’t have to die from their complaints and the ensuing snake bites. God had mercy on them. He said they could be saved—healed—by looking at the bronze serpent Moses fashioned, according to God’s word. We too can be saved, by believing in Jesus. There is hope! God’s mercy is there, waiting for us, the more we turn to Jesus and believe. This is what Jesus came for, to save us so we don’t die in our sins.

What happens then? Just belief? There is more than belief. Belief demands action. Jesus Himself is the example for us, as He tells us, “I say only what the Father taught me . . . He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” We too can do what is pleasing to God, instead of complaining about our plight like the Israelites. And you know what is most pleasing to him? That we come to Him, loving Him, and loving those around us, just as Jesus showed us.

Don’t wallow in your sins and complaints. Where do you need healing? Look at Jesus crucified, see how much He loves you and wants to save you. Try to find some time this week to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, either in Adoration or a quiet church if you can’t find an Adoration time near you.

photo credit

Gina Fensterer is a wife, daughter, mother, friend, homeschooling mama and Colorado native. You can find out more about her here.

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