Monday, September 24, 2012

On advice of my spiritual director, I have of late been reading and praying through the book of Exodus. There is much to ponder there. I think the key to the entire book is found in Exodus 14:13, where the people of God experience their first moment of terror after God has led them out of Egypt. Moses encourages the people, in words we all would do well to ponder, "The Lord will fight for you; yo
u have only to keep still." Only a little while later, again in terror, the people were beset by serpents who bit them. God told Moses to place a bronze image of a serpent atop a pole, and when the people raised their eyes to see the image, they would be saved. It's no wonder why Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) speaks of serpents and reptiles in the first few mansions of her classic, "The Interior Castle." How many people can never move beyond the serpents that beset them in their spiritual journey -- the bites that keep them looking down, not up. Wasn't that the marvel of God's wisdom: by placing the source of our distractions atop a pole, we are compelled to look up from our own travails and worries to see Divine mercy and grace higher than the things of this world. High on the pole was the very source of their distraction: God bade them to see that He was more powerful than the very things that held them down! So, when Jesus says that He must be lifted high on the cross, is it not the fulfillment of what Moses understood: "The Lord will fight for you." In the desert of the Exodus, the serpent -- the source of terror for the people -- was lifted on a pole as a way to compel the people to raise their eyes from their own woes and terror, and to see that God was stronger. In the desert of the crucifixion, the envy, the contempt, the deadwood of rigid doctrine, the clinging to power -- all that brought Jesus to death -- was raised on the cross, so that we might raise our eyes from own self-absorption and see that God is stronger than all of that. Our sins matter little; Mercy is stronger. Our weakness matters not; Grace is stronger. Our worries matter for nothing; Providence overcomes. All that conspired to bring Jesus to death is rendered moot by the cross: lift up your eyes and see your salvation is at hand. Jesus, I trust in you!
September 19, 2012
Msgr. William J. King

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