We read in the Gospel today something of the foresight Jesus has into His mission. He likens what will happen to Him to the situation in the desert where Moses lifted up before the people a staff with a serpent on top. All who had been bitten by serpents and then looked upon this raised staff were healed. In retrospect we can see how this image fits in with the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus, who was lifted up for us on the cross becomes the source of our healing, the forgiveness of our sins. As we gaze upon Him lifted up and surrender our lives to His love we will be saved.

The way the biblical authors use Old Testament images and figures is instructive as to how they are interpreting the life of Jesus, particularly in relation to His Jewish roots. We may not be Jews, but the whole of Jewish history up to the time of Jesus is now our history and we should not only be willing to learn from it as such but it is necessary for us to do so. Without situating Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in its proper context we will be unable to discover its full meaning for our lives. The more we understand our history as a people (Christians) the more we will be able to understand the meaning of our faith and thus be better able to respond to Jesus’ call to follow Him when we hear it.

Today’s Gospel text gives us insight from one angle into the mission of Jesus; there are many others ways of looking at it as well. Let us pray for the grace to open our hearts to each of the different understandings as the Holy Spirit opens them up to us so that we can deepen in our love and surrender to Jesus and His call. The more we allow the Scriptures to form our minds and hearts the closer we will come to knowing Jesus and the more fulfilled our lives will be.

What sort of effort do I put in to try and understand my faith or do I just allow myself to be a nominal Christian, doing what I have to but with little real commitment to understanding?

Lord Jesus, you were sent by your Father to bring redemption to all. Help me to deepen in my understanding of your commitment to me and so deepen my faith response to your call.