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5th Week of Lent, Tuesday, Mar 31st

Numbers 21:4-9 / John 8:21-30
Jesus warns the Pharisees: “Where I am going, you cannot come.”

When Jesus said, “Where I am going you cannot come,” the Pharisees wondered if he was planning to take his own life. Rabbis held that people who took their life went to the deepest part of the nether world. This shows how terribly the Pharisees had misread Jesus and how far from the truth they were. What Jesus actually meant was that he was returning to his Father in heaven. Spiritual blindness is a terrible sin. It implies a deliberate closing of one’s eyes to the truth. This seems to have been the situation of the Pharisees. This is why Jesus told the Pharisees, “You will die in your sins.”
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Do we ever tend to close our eyes to truth because we are afraid of what we might see? “The eye does not see what the mind is unwilling to look at.” Anonymous
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In life, we will always have stress, which of course we do not welcome at all. More so when stress turns to distress, then we will get all flustered and frustrated.

In the 1st reading, we heard how the Israelites were in distress, but that was due to their own grumblings at God and the consequence was the scourge of the fiery serpents.

But out of this distress, arose the intercession of Moses which brought about healing for the people. For Jesus, His greatest moment of distress was when He was nailed to and lifted up on the cross. But it was also on the cross that He revealed His full identity as Saviour.

The cross was also His throne of glory. Whenever we sink into the depths of distress, or face trials and difficulties that wear us down, let us remember this.

That in times of great distress, God is closest to us in His full power to lift us up so that we can see His glory.

The times of distress are also the time in which God reveals His saving love for us.

That is somehow difficult to believe, just as it would seem strange that by looking at the image of a bronze serpent on a standard would bring about healing.
But as we look at Jesus being lifted up on the cross, then we will understand. Then we will believe.

Because we are looking at our Saviour who came to heal and forgive and save us.
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LITURGY


 Introduction
An incontestable truth is that only faith saves. For the Jews wandering in the desert, faith in God’s power – presented here in the form of a bronze serpent – will save the rebellious people of God. The Pharisees have to accept Christ in faith if they want to be saved. We too must look up to the cross with eyes of faith to become free people and God’s sons and daughters. And we, the Church, must become the sign of salvation raised above the na

 Penitential Rite

-Like Israelites, we complained: “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, here there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!", LHM
-Like Israelites, we also acknowledge our sins: "We have sinned in complaining against the LORD”, CHM
-Learning from them, we shall look at your cross for our forgiveness and your mercy, LHM

Opening Prayer
Our saving, merciful God, wandering in our deserts of injustice and lack of love, we cry out with fear or are stunned into silence, some into doubt or despair. Give us enough trusting faith to look up to him who took our evil and doubts upon himself, suffered for them on a cross, and rose from them, Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Lord.

Commentary:
The people are plagued with serpents because they again complain bitterly in the desert even though they are cared for by God. For healing they are to look upon a bronze serpent propped upon a pole and then they shall recover. This is the image that Jesus will become-the Son of Man lifted up on crucifixion, nailed to a tree-and yet, anyone who looks upon him in his agony and sees what hate, violence, murder, sin, injustice, and evil can do, will be healed, forgiven, saved and drawn into this life that Jesus shares with the Father. Jesus only tells the world the truth he has heard from his Father, the Truthful One, and does only what pleases God. Do we do only what pleases God, obeying with Jesus and speaking the truth to the world? Do we stand with the Son of Man who will be crucified?
  
General Intercessions
–   For people who suffer much, that they may look up in faith and hope to Jesus on the cross for strength and healing, we pray:
–   For a deep faith in the love of God, whose Son Jesus suffered for us on the cross, we pray:
–   For all of us, that we may look up to the cross as a liberating sign for all those who follow Jesus, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
God our Father, we celebrate the memorial of the passion and death of Jesus. May our encounter with your Son save us from the evil in us and help us to rise above it, for we know and believe that he is with us, and that he is your Son, one God with you and with the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, you have called your Church – that is us – to be your sign set in the sight of nations. May our living faith in your Son inspire people to discover and encounter him, that with him we may always do what pleases you and serve you. We ask you this through Christ our Lord.

Homily Prayer:
Loving Father, you have heard our complaints, our impatience with all the restrictions imposed on us due to the corona virus.  Sometimes we become frightened when we read and hear the stories of people across the world.  O Lord Jesus, you lived in poverty and suffered persecution for the cause of justice. You chose the Cross as the path to glory to show us the way of salvation.

Guide our hearts back to you.  Help us to think beyond our own wants and to desire only to do your will and the restrictions imposed on us for our own good.  Thank you also for the many blessings you have brought in our lives these days due to this situation and for the ways we feel your presence. May we receive the word of the Gospel joyfully and live by Your example as heirs and citizens of Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.