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Pope Francis Talks about serpents, evil, the devil, sin and Jesus 31.03.20


Pope Francis: Talks about serpents, evil, the devil, sin and Jesus  31.03.20



Pope Francis   31.03.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)       Numbers 21: 4-9,        John 8: 21-30
Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II

Pope Francis talks about serpents, the devil, evil, sin and Jesus 31.03.20

The serpent is certainly not a friendly animal: it is always associated with evil. Even in Revelation, the serpent is the very animal that the devil uses to cause sin. In the Book of Revelation  the devil is called  the "ancient serpent", the one who from the beginning bites, poisons, destroys, kills. That's why he can't succeed. He is someone who proposes beautiful things if you want to succeed, but these are a fantasy: we believe them and so we sin. This is what happened to the people of Israel: they could not bear the journey. They were tired. And the people speak against God and against Moses. It's always the same tune, isn't it? "Why did you get us out of Egypt? To make us die in this desert? Because there is no food or water and we are nauseated by this food so light, manna". (Cf. Nm. 21:4-5) And their imagination – we have read it in recent days – always goes to Egypt: "But, there we were doing well, we ate well ...". And also, it seems that the Lord couldn't put up with His  people at this moment. He was angry: the wrath of God is seen, sometimes ... And then the Lord sent saraph serpents among the people who bit the people so that many of them died. "A large number of Israelites died" (Nm: 21.5). At that time, the serpent was always the image of evil: the people see in the serpent their sin, they see in the serpent what they had done wrong. And they went to Moses and said, "We have sinned because we have complained against the Lord and against you. Pray the Lord to take away these serpents from us" (Nm 21:7). They repent. This is what happened in the desert. Moses prayed for the people, and the Lord said to Moses, "Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten and looks at it he will live" (Nm. 21:8).

I think: isn't this idolatry? There is the serpent, there, an idol, which gives me health ... It's not understandable. Logically, it's not understandable, but this is a prophecy, this is a proclamation of what will happen. Because we have also heard as a prophecy in the Gospel: "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am and that I do nothing on my own" (John. 8:28). Jesus raised: on the cross. Moses makes a serpent and mounts it. Jesus will be lifted up, like the serpent, to give salvation. But the core of the prophecy is precisely that Jesus has made Himself sin for us. He did not sin: he made Himself sin. As St. Peter says in his letter: "He bore all of our sins in Himself" (Cf. 1Pt 2:24) And when we look at the crucifix, we think of the Lord who suffers: all that is true. But let's stop before we get to the centre of that truth: right now, you seem to be the greatest sinner, you have sinned. He has taken upon Himself all our sins, he has annihilated Himself until now. There was a vendetta by the doctors of the law who didn't want Him. All this is true. But the truth that comes from God is that He came into the world to take our sins upon Himself to the point of making Himself sin. All complete sin. Our sins are there.

We need to get used to looking at the crucifix in this light, which is the truest, is the light of redemption. In Jesus made sin we see the total defeat of Christ. He does not pretend to die, he does not pretend not to suffer, alone, abandoned ... "Father, why did you abandon me?" (Cf Mt 27.46; Mark 15:34). A serpent: I'm raised up like a serpent, as something that's completely sinful.

It is not easy to understand this and, if we think about it, we will never arrive at a conclusion. We can only, contemplate, pray and give thanks.




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