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Lent gives us a chance to reflect on God's love

Thought for the Weekend

By Fr Patrick McCafferty

At this point in Lent, just over halfway through, we pause on the journey. We assess our progress and we look ahead, in anticipation of the fullness of healing and deliverance that the Lord has already accomplished for us for ever.

Lent is a symbol of the progression of our earthly lives towards their goal. It is an opportunity to reflect upon, with deepening appreciation, what the Lord Himself has done for us - the love beyond all measure with which He has loved us; to marvel at His saving work and, with thanksgiving and adoration, to behold the Cross which declares that we are saved, that, with Christ, we are victors.

Lent is a call to "come, consider the works of the Lord and the marvellous deeds He has done (Psalm 66:5)".

Referring to His Passion and Cross, the Lord Jesus foretold: "The Son of Man must be lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him (John 3:14)."

Jesus is referring to the incident in the desert when the people's disobedience brought a plague of deadly serpents upon them. Many were bitten and died (Numbers 21:6). God instructed Moses to fashion a serpent of bronze and put it up on a standard, so that all who looked at it, were delivered from the deadly toxin. Thus, the means of death was changed into life and healing. The antidote to the deadly poison is created from the venom itself.

This prophetic gesture, shown to Moses by God, points to how God will redeem and save the world from the deadly effects of sin, from our fundamental disobedience to God's Word and from our disastrous departure from His Truth.

Moses lifted up a bronze serpent and all who looked at it were saved from the lethal venom. Jesus Himself is lifted up on the Cross, and all who look to Him, with faith, are saved from everlasting death.

The Cross of Christ is the anti-venom, the antidote, to the destructive power of evil. The Cross of Christ declares the truth that evil will never win and that the Devil's fate is sealed.

Disaster had befallen our humanity and there was no remedy to the catastrophe that had overtaken us, on account of our stubborn rejection of God's love and grace. Nevertheless, the response of God to our self-inflicted plight, was the advent of His Son.

"God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ - it is through grace that you have been saved - and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus (see Ephesians 2:4-10)."

We were lifeless and He gave us His own life. We were prostrate in abject helplessness and He reached down to us, from the Cross, in infinite kindness and merciful love, raising us up, with Him, beyond the grasp of death. We were the Devil's prey but, by means of the Cross, the Lord has snatched us from the jaws of Hell.

The barren and bitter wood of horror and desolation is now the Tree of Life.

The One who hung upon the arms of the Cross has found and embraced us.

With mighty hand and outstretched arm, the Lord has saved and delivered us. His love endures for evermore (Psalm 136:12).

Let us never lose sight of these wondrous realities. Let us live constantly in the light of the truth of God's love for us (John 3:21) - His love "stronger than death (Song of Songs 8:8)".

Belfast Telegraph

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