"The people complained against God and Moses...In punishment the Lord sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died." —Numbers 21:5-6
Hundreds and thousands of Israelites were repeatedly destroyed because of their sins (see 1 Cor 10:8-10; Nm 25:1-9; 14:37). Their basic sin was idolatry, and a significant part of this sin was their craving for the food of slavery. They wanted meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, garlic (Nm 11:4-5), grain, figs, grapes, and pomegranates (Nm 20:5). The Israelites were disgusted with the "wretched" food God gave them (Nm 21:5). They complained about the manna God miraculously gave them each day for free.
Is an inordinate desire for food contributing to the sin of idolatry in your life? Ezekiel prophesied: "They shall not be allowed to satisfy their craving or fill their bellies, for this has been the occasion of their sin" (Ez 7:19). Paul spoke of people who "will end in disaster! Their god is their belly and their glory is in their shame" (Phil 3:19). He was talking about "enemies of the cross" (Phil 3:18), "those who are set upon the things of this world" (Phil 3:19). Paul warned us to avoid the company of those who cause dissension and scandal through deception and flattery (Rm 16:17-18). "Such men serve, not Christ our Lord, but their own bellies" (Rm 16:18). "My little children, be on your guard against idols" (1 Jn 5:21), including the idol of food.
Prayer: Father, as I fast this Lent, make me aware of temptations to gluttony and idolatry.
Promise: "You belong to what is below; I belong to what is above. You belong to this world — a world which cannot hold Me. That is why I said you would die in your sins. You will surely die in your sins unless you come to believe that I AM." —Jn 8:23-24
Praise: St. Turibius, then an archbishop, died a happy death. After receiving Jesus in Communion, he lay on his deathbed while those around him sang: "I rejoiced because they said to me, 'We will go up to the house of the Lord' " (Ps 122:1).
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 23, 1998
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 27, 1998