"Would one of you hand his son...a poisonous snake when he asks for a fish?" —Matthew 7:9-10
Jesus mentions in the Gospel passage that no parent would give their child a poisonous snake when asked for a fish (Mt 7:9-10). Thus, by giving their child a snake, the parent would not only be withholding food from their child, but also be filling the child with deadly poison. Jesus' implication is clear: a parent who loves their child will not give them a poisonous snake. What a paradox it is to read, then, that God sent Israel snakes instead of the food they desired. These snakes "sent" by God "in punishment" are also poisonous (Nm 21:6), biting "the people so that many of them died" (Nm 21:6). Finally, the Israelites repented (Nm 21:7). So the Lord told Moses to make a likeness of a poisonous snake and mount it on a pole. Whenever any Israelite who had been bitten looked at the snake hung on the pole, he recovered (Nm 21:8-9).
Is our heavenly Father a parent Who takes pleasure in handing His children a poisonous snake when they ask for a fish? St. Paul comments: "Let us not test the Lord as some of them did, only to be destroyed by snakes...The things that happened to them serve as an example...Let anyone who thinks he is standing upright watch out lest he fall!" (1 Cor 10:9-12; see also Wis 16:6). The snake mounted on a pole prefigures the cross of Jesus Christ. "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert," hanging the snake on a pole, "so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that all who believe may have eternal life in Him" (Jn 3:14-15). God is a Father Who loves us so much that He sent His own Son to die on a cross so that we might believe in Him and be saved (Jn 3:16). Believe in Jesus, repent of your sins, and receive eternal life.
Prayer: Father, may I trust in You and lovingly embrace any crosses You send to me.
Promise: "Your right hand saves me." Ps 138:7
Praise: Jesus healed toddler Larry of asthma.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 24, 2018
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