Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Reflecting on Numbers 21: 4b-9
Last week I had the opportunity to be on a jury. When it came time to choose our foreperson we each admitted that if we found her guilty we didn’t want to be the one to look her in the eye and say it out loud.
In the end, it didn’t matter. They polled each of us, and we each said “guilty”. When it was my turn, I forced myself to look in her lovely young face and say, “Guilty”. I reasoned that if I wasn’t certain enough to look her in the eye and say it then I should change my vote.
Sometimes we have to look at the very thing that makes us uneasy and name it. I felt my weakling self grow stronger as I met her gaze and spoke the truth that I believed, even while knowing that it would make her life more difficult. But that truth may save her life someday, or the life of a passenger in her car, or in a car sharing the road with her.
Averting our gaze from our own truth―our addictions, our gossiping, our laziness, our self-aggrandizement―only hastens the day when someone else will have to tell us the truth about ourselves. Hopefully, that won’t be in a courtroom.
Stare down the serpent as it is raised up in the desert and it will heal you. That’s the beginning of true spiritual healing. Recognize and name the things that are making you sick, or sad, or sinful. Have the courage to truly gaze at them, and then watch God heal.
Or you could avoid self-knowledge today, and force a scaredy-cat jury to pronounce you guilty tomorrow.
What truths about yourself do you refuse to see?
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