From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’
Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’
So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
For the Israelites in today’s reading, the water that “flowed abundantly” (Nm 20:4) from the rock was not enough and the food they received “in abundance” (Nm 11) was “miserable” and insufficient (Nm 21:5). One reason we read stories like this from God’s saving work among the Israelites is because our human nature has not changed. The gift God gives us one day is quickly forgotten on the next and what was a miracle on Monday is by Friday all but taken for granted. How many times has a kind word or deed done by a co-worker, family member, or friend been forgotten the minute he or she does ‘that thing’ that always gets on our nerves? How often do we take for granted the mundane gifts God gives us day after day?
Practice: Pay attention to God’s small gifts today and give thanks for them.
Prayer: Jesus, give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and wisdom to understand all the ways you have and continue to sustain me on life’s journey.
—Erin Kast, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!