Jesus, crucified for the wicked is the best proof that God loves us (Rom 5, 8). It is enough for us to gaze on him to believe and live forever.
It seems odd to me that the serpent that brings death is the sign of healing (Num 21, 4-9). But Jesus goes along with the that sign (medicine, too, takes poison, pharmakon, as cure). For he says that the serpent on the pole points to him as the Crucified One.
Yes, the teaching is that Jesus Crucified gives eternal life to those who gaze on him and believe in him. So, like the serpent, the one crucified is a sign of death and life. In other words, death is life and life, death.
And it is harder to believe such a statement than to believe what the first reading says. Namely, that loathsome deeds do not cry out for ruin but reinstatement. For God is rich in mercy; he saves us by his grace.
But paradoxes are part of Jesus’ teachings and life. They defy logic, yet they should not only puzzle us, but above all, should challenge us.
That is to say, they call us to be one with the poor who are rich, though. For theirs is God’s kingdom where order means to put things upside-down. There, the wretched in the eyes of the world are blessed.
The poor, yes, are more likely than most to see their utter need for God. That is why they take shelter in the Lord rather than trust princes (Ps 118, 9).
Hail to the cross of the Crucified, our only hope.
To be poor in a basic and radical way is to be, do and live as Jesus. And first of all, he is both man and God in a paradoxical way.
As man, Jesus is flesh that dies, is poor and weak. But as God, he is spirit that lives forever, is rich and mighty. He is poor, yet he makes us rich (2 Cor 8, 9). He knows no sin, but God makes him to be sin that we may be just (2 Cor 5, 21). Besides, he becomes a curse to win us blessing (Gal 3, 13-14).
In the light, then, of the paradoxes, there is great hope for us. For in Christ, our mortal flesh becomes immortal; flesh from the earth puts on the glory of heaven.
There is catch, of course: we have to be crucified first like the one who serves and gives his body up and sheds his blood for us (1 Jn 3, 16; 4, 11).
Lord Jesus Crucified, grant that we find our glory and humanness as we follow to serve the poor (SV.EN III:384). As we live like you to die like you, as we hide in you and be full of you (SV.EN I:276). Thus, your love that spills over cannot but show in us.
14 March 2021
Fourth Sunday of Lent (B)
2 Chron 36,14-16. 19-23; Eph 2, 4-10; Jn 3, 14-21