From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died.
The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Not long ago, I was stuck in traffic, driving my niece and nephew around, when they began getting antsy. I can recall vividly having my “patience worn out by the journey,” just like the Israelites. It is human to get tired along the journey, especially in stressful and confusing situations. Though, how we respond in those situations is up to us. God gives so abundantly in our times of need, yet sometimes it can be hard for us to receive the graces God desires to give us, just like the Israelites.
Today’s reading from Numbers is evidence of, not only God’s abundant generosity, but also God’s abundant mercy. We will mess up again, we will lose our patience, it’s inevitable. Yet, this time of Lent isn’t about beating ourselves up for messing up, but rather for recognizing where I veered off course, and then asking God to help me get back on track.
Where might I have veered off course from Christ this past week? How might God be inviting me back on track?
—Marcos Gonzales, a Jesuit scholastic of the California province, is completing his masters of social work at Loyola University Chicago and interning with the Cook County Juvenile Probation Department.
My God, I am so fragile:
my dreams get broken, my relationships get broken, my heart gets broken …
What can I believe except what Jesus taught:
that only what is first broken, like bread, can be shared;
only what is broken is open to your entry.
So I believe, Lord: help my unbelief
that I may have courage to keep trying
even when I am tired. Amen
—Written by a student while making a retreat