. Pacing the floor in the middle of the night, in my dark basement, faintly lit only by the red LED lights on our old VCR, I clung tightly to the small crucifix at end of my rosary. My depression was robbing me of my sleep, my health and more importantly, my hope. Clinging to one of the last vestiges of hope I had (Jesus), I tried to ride out the storm until daylight.

. In our first reading today (Num 21:4–9) the Israelites complained about how God was providing for them in the desert. They were bitten by a scourge of seraph serpents. God had them mount a bronze serpent on a pole, (as you would lift up a dead snake with a garden rake to look at) to remind them that He was in control…and as many as who looked upon it were healed of the bite. In our Gospel (Jn 8:21–30) Jesus explained to the people who He was telling 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…” Because He spoke this way, many came to believe in Him.

. Imagine living in the sparse surroundings of the desert and then having poisonous snakes invade the barely tolerable conditions. As you live in fear of being bit, you watch your friends and loved ones die from bites. A visual and physical reminder of God’s providence and protection would be vital. As we think of the poison of sin that rages through our veins and the hopelessness we feel to overcome it, let alone what hope we have for undeserved forgiveness or eternal life, the symbol of Christ being lifted up (the crucifix) is sometimes all we feel like we have to cling to. And yet, Jesus came, suffered, died and rose that we might have eternal life! Holding onto touchstones such as that crucifix on my rosary helped boost my senses from faint hope to reality during that difficult time. Jesus wants us to gaze upon Himself, lifted up in sacrifice and oblation, and recognize that this is the Father’s plan…that Jesus is I AM, God Himself…and if we believe in Him, place all our hopes and trust in Him, and live lives of love and obedience to the Father as He did, we can live eternally with Him! This was God’s plan, still is, and He is still in control. Peace and All Good, my friends!

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