Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Cross and the Seraph Serpents

The very first symptom of the Fall was the desire to hide from God. And from each other. And, even, from ourselves. Hiding from God is just futile and frustrating. Hiding from others and from ourselves, however, is death-dealing. Secrets bind and kill. Delusions make one stupid. Both are what makes up the wide and downhill superhighway to despair.

Today's Mass readings show to us the antidote to this mess.

We have to face, straight-on, exactly what we've done, precisely what our besetting problem is.

In the journey out of Egypt to the Land of Promise, the people suffered an invasion of poisonous seraph serpents, and many were bitten and died. The way of healing prescribed by the Lord was to look upon the image of a seraph serpent. Those who would look upon the bronze serpent, who could admit, "I have been bitten by the serpent", would be healed. Those who would not look, those who feared or panicked or denied that the serpent was their problem, would die.

In the same way, we must look at the cross of Jesus. We _must_ look. In fact, the cross of Jesus must be our only glory. But, what do we see when we raise our eyes to the crucifix above the altar, or finger the cross that dangles from the rosary? Our Lord and Messiah, Our true King and only true Love, is put to a torturous death, and submits to it freely, that we may be redeemed. And that death, the death of a true Innocent, is at my hands, is at our hands. I am a betrayer, an abandoner, a coward and denier, a crucifier. And the Crucified forgives me, and redeems me, and raises me up. All that is required is to gaze upon His cross, and to know and say, "This is what I have done to my Lord of Glory. He deserves all my love and I have given Him this." At that, the Lord will conquer death in me, and tear down the gates of the netherworld in me, and heal me, and, on that Day, call me to Himself. But if I refuse to look upon the cross, and deny that I had anything to do with that, and try to say that it's all Pontius Pilate's problem, then I will die, as surely as my fathers and mothers died in that desert when the seraph serpents came, and as sure as, before that, Adam and Eve took death for their inheritance.

Look upon the Cross, on which is hung Salvation Himself, and we will be healed and live!
.

No comments: