One who is bitten, who sees the serpent, shall live.
A reading from the Book of Numbers (Numbers 21:4-9)
In those days: From Mount Hor the Hebrews set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient on the way. And 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 loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it up as a sign; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it up as a sign; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
The word, of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm102: 1 -2.15-17. 18—20 (R. 1)
R/. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you. O Lord,
O Lord hear my prayers
and let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Turn your ear towards me;
on the day when I call, speedily answer me. R/.
The nations shall fear the name of the Lord,
and all the earth’s kings your glory.
When the Lord shall build up Sion,
he will appear in all his glory.
Then he will turn to the prayers of the helpless;
he will not despise their prayers. R/.
Let this be written for ages to come,
that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord;
the Lord looked down from His holy place on high,
looked down from heaven to the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
and free those condemned to die. R/.
VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. The seed is the word of God, and the sower is Christ; all who find him will abide for ever. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
“when you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (John 8:21-30)
At that time: Jesus said to the Pharisees, “I go away, and you will seek me and die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” Then said the Jews, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you can not come’?” He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” They said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Even what I have told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge; but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he spoke to them of the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” As he spoke thus, many believed in him.
The Gospel of the Lord.
The Israelites were at it again. They rebelled against God and his servant Moses. They were duly punished with an invasion of serpents. God directed Moses to make a bronze replica of the serpent to save those who looked at it after being bitten. In the Gospel, the Jews were again at war with Jesus. They would not accept him for who he said he was. They asked him pointedly, “Who are you?” Jesus told them that they would know who he was when they would have lifted him up as Moses did the serpent in the wilderness. Through his crucifixion, Jesus would accomplish the salvation of the entire human race, including those Jews who refused to accept him.