To know how much God loves us, we only have to contemplate the Crucifix: a tortured man, a God," emptied of divinity"," dirtied" by sin. But a God whose self-abasement forever destroys the real name of evil, that which Revelation calls "the ancient serpent".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Salvation "was not obtained by a God who waves a magic wand to do things", but by the sufferings of Jesus, who forever defeated "the serpent", a symbol of sin in the Bible, but also an instrument of salvation, noted Pope Francis at Mass this morning in Casa Santa Marta.
He was commenting on the reading from the Book of Numbers and the passage from John's Gospel on the confrontation between Christ and the Pharisees. The passage from the Old Testament refers to the people of Israel who, tired of wandering in the desert with little food, curse God and Moses.
The serpent is twice mentioned: first when serpents are sent against the unfaithful people in which they sow fear and death until the people beg Moses to ask for forgiveness.
The second, when "God says to Moses: 'Make a fiery serpent and set it upon a pole (the bronze serpent). Anyone who has been bitten, when he sees it, shall live '. This is mysterious: the Lord does not let the serpent die, he leaves it be. But if one of these hurts a person, they only have to look upon the bronze serpent to be healed. He lifts up the serpent".
The verb "to lift up" is also at the center of the confrontation between Christ and the Pharisees described in the Gospel. At one point, Jesus says: " When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I Am". First of all, Francis pointed out, "I Am" is also the name that God gave of Himself to Moses to communicate to the Israelites. And then there's that expression that is repeated: "Lifting up the Son of man ...". "The serpent, symbol of sin. The serpent that kills. But a serpent that saves. And this is the Mystery of Christ. Paul, speaking of this Mystery, says that Jesus emptied himself, he humbled himself, destroyed himself to save us. He uses even stronger words still:' He became sin '. By using this symbol he became the serpent. This is the prophetic message of these readings today. The Son of Man as a serpent, 'made sin', lifted up to save us. "
This "is the story of our redemption, this is the story of the love of God. If we want to know of God’s love for us, look at the crucifix: a tortured man, "a God, emptied of divinity", "dirtied" by sin. " But a God who, in annihilating himself destroys forever the real name of evil, what Revelation calls "the ancient serpent".
"Sin is the work of Satan and Jesus overcomes Satan 'becoming sin' and from there elevates all of us. The Crucifix is not an ornament, it is not a work of art, with many precious stones, such as one sees: the Crucifix is the Mystery of God’s annihilation, for love. And the serpent in the desert prophesies salvation: He is lifted up and anyone who looks at him is healed. And this was not accomplished with the magic wand of a God who does things: no! It was made possible by the suffering of the Son of man, by the suffering of Jesus Christ".
"It would do us good to make a bit 'of time - today, tomorrow – and read the Beatitudes, read Matthew 25, and be careful about what happens in our heart: if there is something of disdain and ask the Lord for the grace to understand that the only way of salvation is the 'folly of the Cross', that is, the annihilation of the Son of God”.
Commenting on the parable of the rich man, Francis notes that the Gospel he does not mention his name. "This wealth, this is power, this can accomplish anything, this is a priest with a career, a bishop with a career ... How often do we too do this... label people with adjectives, not names, because they have no substance."
God says: "relieve the oppressed, do right by the orphan, plead for the widow." "This is the Christian life. Instead, mere talk leads to vanity, to that empty pretense of being Christian – but no, that way one is not a Christian at all".
Commenting on the death of John the Baptist, Francis invites us to "ask the Lord for the grace of humility that John had without bestowing us with the merits or glories of others. And above all, the grace that there is always space in our lives for Jesus to grow and that we abase ourselves, to the very end. "