"With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses..."
How many times has God absolved our sins through the action of the priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession)? How many times has Jesus humbly entered under our roof, in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, in the midst of our inner messiness, only to bless and heal us anyway? How many times has God saved us, in faith, hope and charity, from despair and from doubt? And how many times do we still complain?
"Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived." Numbers 21:4-9
The problem with our lack of patience is that God works wonders in ways our finite minds cannot wrap themselves around except in hindsight. And that's why, like the Israelites in the desert, we fail to see that God has saved us from the mighty Egyptians, parted the Red Sea, while leading us to the promised land...and all we can do is complain about the amenities along the Way?
"But they flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues, Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him,
nor were they faithful to his covenant. But he, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not..." Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38
The whole point of the Cross is that we are screw ups, and God, in His Unfathomable Mercy, works good through evil, draws straight with crooked lines, even to the point of shedding His own Blood for us!
"Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross..." Philippians 2:6-11
"For God so Loved the world..." How unfathomable it really is that Jesus, as the Word of God, as the Second Person of the Trinity, as the firstborn of all Creation, as the Eternal and Almighty Lord, would empty himself and become a convicted criminal (though innocent), enduring a savage beating, a brutal mockery, and a Sorrowful Passion on the Cross for such itsy-bitsy, finite creatures like us. The next time you see an ant hill, imagine becoming an ant, and dying on a speck of dirt to save the insect world. Even that comparison would fall infinitely short in comparison of what Jesus did for us.
"And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:13-17
John 3:16 seems so warm and fuzzy. Was Jesus' time on the Cross warm and fuzzy? Were Jesus' harsh words to hypocrites, and those who would lead the innocent to damnation, warm and fuzzy? We must remember Simeon the prophet's prediction that Jesus 'is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected...' Luke 2:14 We must remember that the Cross is both the symbol of God's Abundant Mercy...and and the symbol of His Immutable Justice.
The question is, which will we choose?