Author: Rev. Fr. Eldo Varkey Valiaparampil
Jn 3: 14-15 "And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must the son of man be lifted up; that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."
Dear and Beloved in Christ,
As we pass through the mid of Great Lent, it is meaningful to reflect and meditate on the act of Moses who lifted up the serpent in the wilderness to save the Israelites from the bite of the serpent and death.
John goes back to a strange Old Testament story which is told in NB 21: 4-9 on their journey through the wilderness, the people of Israel murmured and complained and regretted that they ever left Egypt. To punish them, God sent a plague of deadly, fiery serpents. The people requested and cried for mercy. God instructed Moses to make an image of a serpent and to hold it up amid the camp, and those who looked upon the serpent was healed.
Dear ones, Great Lent is a preparation; preparing mentally, physically and spiritually to part-take in the Christ event of passion week and finally the glory of resurrection. There are two kinds of lifting used by John. It is used by him when Jesus was being lifted into glory at the time of ascension into heaven. Jn 8:28, 12:32. It means that there were two lifting ups in Jesus's life - the lifting on the cross and the lifting into glory. And the two are inextricably connected. One could not have happened without the other. For Jesus, the cross was the way to glory. He never tried to refuse or escape from any trials on the road to Calvary.
We as followers of Christ face the same forces. We can, if we like, choose the easy way as many Christians do by not observing lent, not following the commandments of God, eating, drinking, and love human Glory more than the Glory that comes from God. Therefore, the Great Lent teaches us that without suffering on the cross, there is no crown.
The second thought to reflect on is about 'eternal life'. We are taught that eternity is being with God. To have eternal life envelops every relationship in life with peace. It gives us peace with God. We are no longer cringing before a tyrannical king or seeking to hide from an austere judge. We are at home with our Father. It gives us peace with man. It enables us to see man as God sees them. It makes us into one as God sees them. It makes us into one great family joined in love.
It gives us peace within ourselves. Every man is more afraid of himself than of anything else. He knows his own weaknesses, he knows the force of his own temptations, he knows his own tasks and the demands of his own life. However, now he knows that he faces it all with God. It is not he who lives, but Christ who lives in him.
Dear ones, hurry to hold the steadfast love which Jesus showed us through the cross of pain, neglection and death. Realize that we cannot follow Jesus without bearing the cross, and to finally attain the glory of resurrection and eternal life.
With love and prayers,
Rev. Fr. Eldo Varkey Valiaparampil