Reading I


A reading from the Book of Numbers (Num. 21:4b-9)


With their patience worn out by the journey,

the people complained against God and Moses,

“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,

where there is no food or water?

We are disgusted with this wretched food!”


In punishment the LORD sent among the people Saraph serpents,

which bit the people so that many of them died;

Then the people came to Moses and said,

“We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.

Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.”

So, Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,

“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,

and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.”

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.



Responsorial Psalm (78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38)


R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Hearken, my people, to my teaching;

 incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth in a parable,

 I will utter mysteries from of old.


R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

While he slew them, they sought him

 and inquired after God again,

Remembering that God was their rock

  and the Most-High God, their redeemer.


R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

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.


R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

But he, being merciful, forgave their sin

and destroyed them not;

often he turned back his anger

and let none of his wrath be roused.


R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!


Reading II


(Phil 2:6-11)


Brothers and sisters:

    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.

Because of this, God greatly exalted him

    and bestowed on him the name

    that is above every name,

    that at the name of Jesus

    every knee should bend,

    of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

    and every tongue confess that

    Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God, the Father.




R. Alleluia, alleluia.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,

because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.




From the Gospel according to John (Jn 3:13-17)


Jesus said to Nicodemus:

“No one has gone up to heaven

except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.

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.”


For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,

so that everyone who believes in him might not perish

but might have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,

but that the world might be saved through him.




Jesus lifted up on the Cross. Moses makes a serpent and lifts him up. Jesus will be lifted up, like the serpent, to give salvation. But the crux of the prophecy is precisely that Jesus became sin for us. He did not sin: He made Himself sin. As St Peter says in his Letter: ‘He took our sins upon Himself’ (cf. 1 Peter 2:24) And when we look at crucifix, we think of the suffering Lord: all that is true. But we stop before we get to the centre of that truth: at this moment, You seem to be the greatest sinner, You have made Yourself sin. You have taken upon Yourself all our sins, You have annihilated Yourself until now. The Cross, it is true, is a torment, there is the vengeance of the doctors of the Law, of those who did not want Jesus: all this is true. But the truth that comes from God is that He came into the world to take our sins upon Himself to the point of becoming sin. All sin. Our sins are there. We must get used to looking at the crucifix in this light, which is the truest light; it is the light of redemption. (Santa Marta, 31 March 2020)