From serpent to salvation

serpentNumbers covers some 40 years of time between two generations of Israelites, the people numbered in two censuses taken out by Moses as instructed by the LORD.  As in previous chapters, the Lord appeared to be strict, demanding and harsh to the people of Israel because “the fear of punishment and certain temporal promises have been necessary” (CCC 1964). They suffered plagues and punishments were taken out on them, i.e. the plague to the rebels (Num 16); the plague of fiery serpents (Num 21); the plague at Ba’al of Peor (Num 25) etc., “the Old Law prescribed charity” (CCC 1964) for God has infinite love and mercy towards man and God does nothing without the salvation of man in mind (CCC 313).

For example, God answered to the pleas of the people when He struck them with the plague of fiery serpents.  The Lord told Moses to set up a bronze serpent so whoever looked at it would live (Num 21:8-9).  As stated in John Chapter 3, “and as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14).  The bronze serpent resembles a type of Christ so whoever believes in it/him may not die.  The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is the “one mediator between God and men” (CCC 618) and “the source of eternal salvation” (CCC 617).  The merciful LORD wanted eternal salvation for all His people and it is only through the cross that man can reach Heaven.  “Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven (CCC 618).  Therefore, by “looking at the bronze serpent and live” (Num 21:9) resembles the Church’s venerations of Jesus’ cross, as ”Hail, O Cross, our only hope” (CCC 617).

 

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Why Do We Have Traditions?

traditionAt first glance, some traditions seem meaningless. When I was a kid my family had a tradition to eat taco salad in the living room on New Year’s Eve. It was the only day of the year mom didn’t yell at us for taking food into the living room. But why taco salad and why New Year’s Eve? I really don’t know.

Another tradition in my family is that mom and dad would go out on a date in Late November, and the kids would decorate while they were gone. I know how this tradition started. The first time was really me and my sister’s idea. Mom didn’t want to put up decorations quite yet but didn’t tell us not to so as we babysat our younger two siblings, we thought it would be fun for the four of us to decorate the house, so we did. At first, mom was a mix of surprised and annoyed, but then she realized we did an OK job so just left things as they were rather than make extra work for herself. The next year we did it without permission again, and after that it became a tradition. Even now, my sisters sneak into mom and dad’s house when they’re out and decorate for Christmas (I live too far away to participate). Continue reading

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Dangerous Expectations

expectationsA priest I’ve known for many years always wishes me a “Blessed” Christmas this time of year.  Never a “Merry” Christmas.  Never a “Happy Christmas.”  And most certainly, never “have a good one.”

After he had done this a couple times, I overcame my natural shyness and asked why he doesn’t say “Merry” like everyone else.  He smiled (with a smile a little like the Cheshire cat) and explained that Christmas isn’t really about being Merry, but about receiving the greatest gift God could give us: His only son. Continue reading

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The Mosaic Covenant

 

covenantThese are the crucial chapters where the LORD laid down His laws — “the first covenant” with Moses on Mount Sinai.  Here are His expectations from the people of Israel, especially that they would recognize him and serve him as “the one living and true God” (CCC 62), for He is a jealous God (Ex 20:5).

God revealed Himself progressively throughout Exodus. The most significant revelations were the revelations of His most divine name to Moses at the burning bush, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14) and at the covenant at Mount Sinai, “I am the LORD your God” (Ex 20:1).  God also emphasized His Holiness, especially to those who came near to Him.  One harsh case in Leviticus Chapter 8 was the death of Na’dab and Abi’hu, sons of Aaron, as they lit an unholy fire before the LORD.  Continue reading

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Advent and the Art of Waiting Well

waiting

Advent is a four-week act of faith, hope, and love.  We have a few short weeks to de-clutter our hearts, and make straight God’s path in our souls. We are waiting for the birth of our Savior.  The key is waiting well. Continue reading

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The Chosen People’s Hard Path

peopleExodus is a continuity of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Genesis. Through Moses, God continues to fulfill His promises to His chosen people, the sons of Israel.

The 430 years of slavery for the people of Israel in Egypt (Ex 12:40), correspond to God’s words to Abraham that his descendants would be slaves in a land that was not theirs and oppressed for 400 years (Gen 15:13).  “God chose Abraham and made a covenant with him and his descendants. By the covenant, God formed his people and revealed his law to them through Moses” (CCC 72). Continue reading

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Advent and the Art of Living Dangerously

dangerousCould but thy soul, O man,

Become a silent night!

God would be born in thee

And set all things aright.

-Angelus Silenius, 1657

Pope St. John Paul II wrote that we are an Easter People, and ‘Alleluia!’ is our song. We are also an Advent people. Continue reading

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Jacob in the mold: Genesis 23-50

jacobReviewing the life of Jacob, it was a life that was molded by God. God molded Jacob from his defected character into the character that God had intended for His salvation plan.  Jacob did not get his blessing from God because of his tricks, i.e. Jacob’s hand taken hold of Esau’s heel at birth (Gen 25:26); Jacob bought the right of the firstborn from Esau (Gen 25:29-34); Jacob tricked his father into giving him the blessing as the firstborn (Gen 27).  Rather, it was purely from God’s love and mercy that although he had performed all those tricks, God still chose him, still walked with him and gave him His blessing.

Through the different struggles in Jacob’s life, such as fear of Esau (Gen 27); La’ban cheated him on his marriages (Gen 29) and the jealousy between his wives (Gen 30): hunt down by La’ban (Gen 31) etc., Jacob was protected and blessed by God. Jacob is saved from harm only by divine intervention to La’ban (Gen 31:29). The 12 sons as a result from the fights between the wives became the 12 tribes of Israel.  Continue reading

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My Moment with Emanuela

giannaI had the opportunity to participate in the “March for Life” in Rome on Mother’s Day in 2016.  This is an annual event where all with the same belief in the dignity of human life gather to join in prayers and march in faith to offer hope to a world of despair.  During the event, I had the honor of meeting Emanuela Molla, the daughter of St Gianna Molla, the heroic mother who followed the example of Christ and chose to give up on cancer treatment during pregnancy, hence, her own life, in order to save the life of her unborn child, Emanuela.  I shared this encounter and the heroic story of St Gianna online, which raised many questions on whether St Gianna’s suffering and sacrifice was really necessary and worthwhile.

Why are moral absolutes important for Catholic morality?  Why do some people reject the idea of moral absolutes simply on the basis of a disordered view of suffering? Continue reading

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The Cross and the Cell Phone

instagramI kind of hate Instagram.  I like it in theory- a place where we can share images that communicate and share our lives, our hopes, our passions.  But I hate the twisted and vicious cross I’ve seen it become in my 15-year-old daughter’s life.

When “The Girl” (name withheld to protect the immature) turned 13, my husband and I gave her filtered access to Instagram as a rite of passage, but with a catch. Her account is on my phone, and I go through it daily.  We decided that this social media journey was going to be one that we walked together.  She didn’t need to worry about hiding anything, because I could see it. End of story. My job was to set ground rules, talk with her about what I saw, and listen to her as she shared what she thought.  This is part of the modern teenage journey, and ALL teenage journeys are messy. I promised myself to walk with her and not over-react to the messiness, but try instead to make it a learning experience. Continue reading

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