A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ugly salvation

In sports, they often speak of "an ugly win" or "winning ugly" – victories that look bad, but are victories nonetheless.

Both of today's readings speak of what we might call "ugly salvation."

In the first reading (Numbers 21:4-9), the image of "a fiery serpent" – the very thing that the people dread – becomes a sign and instrument of God's salvation.

In the Gospel (John 8:21-30), our Lord refers to his being "lifted up" – a reference that he elsewhere (3:14f) connects with the serpent in the first reading.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of man be lifted up...

Of course, that to which our Lord is referring is far more ugly than a snake: it is the bloody body of a man, stripped of dignity and clothing, hanging by his flesh along the side of the road, struggling painfully for each breath, and ridiculed to his face by his own people as he slowly dies.

He is referring to his own death on the cross.

...even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have eternal life.

The ultimate ugliness. The ultimate salvation.

The ugliness, of course, comes from our sins, piled higher and higher over the millennia, but through the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, all of that sin and ugliness is taken away.

Sometimes our lives can feel ugly – sometimes we even feel ugly ourselves – but no matter how ugly and painful our lives may become, God's salvation is always there. All we have to do is to look to Christ on the cross and follow him.

Then said Jesus unto them,
When ye have lifted up the Son of man,
then shall ye know that I am he,
and that I do nothing of myself;
but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

And he that sent me is with me:
the Father hath not left me alone;
for I do always those things that please him.