Skip to main content


Reflection: Health Care Legislation and the Fiery Serpent

God is inviting us to repentance even as He chastises us in our Lenten wilderness.We too, like Israel, complained of lack of "care." Now we have it.

It is not coincidence that the symbol of today's Old Testament reading, the serpent on the pole, is also the symbol of health care.

It is not coincidence that the symbol of today's Old Testament reading, the serpent on the pole, is also the symbol of health care.


NASHVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - On this historic day of last formalities for our horrendous new legislation, it is profoundly providential that the Old Testament reading is Numbers 21:4-10, the story of the fiery serpents, because the ancient symbol of the story, the serpent on the pole, is the symbol of the medical profession.

As they wandered in the desert, the people complained about the difficulties and deprivations of the journey. Against the leaders, they leveled accusations of lack of care, accusations which God considered against Himself and His own provision for them.

Specifically, the people complained that the manna God miraculously rained down on the desert floor to feed the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness was insubstantial and therefore "worthless." Sometimes their complaint against the manna is translated "this most vile bread." They had no appetite for the spiritual sustenance in the heavenly bread.

It had become commonplace and empty. They began looking for something else to "care" for them.

When God removed His protection from the people to prove their complaints false, they were attacked by an infestation of poisonous snakes, probably called "fiery serpents" because of the inflammation caused by their bites. Once the people acknowledged and confessed their rebellion as sin, God commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent and raise it up on a pole so that anyone bitten could look at it and be healed.

God commanded that the death-dealing instrument would be the same used to heal. Because only God could heal an epidemic of deadly snake bites through such pitifully inadequate methods, the people were chastised for their false accusations when their healing was accomplished.

We too complained of lack of "care." Now we have it.

As we languish from the hardships of the journey toward the Promised Land, do we refuse the spiritual sustenance of the Eucharist by allowing it to become commonplace and therefore spiritually unsatisfying and "worthless"?

I find this reading from today´s liturgy eerily sermonic, as though God is still inviting a griping America to repentance on this day that will surely live in democratic infamy, even as He chastises us in our Lenten wilderness through it. Have we somehow traded the Eucharist, our true sustenance and care, for health care legislation that has fatally bitten us?

We have made our proverbial bed and will certainly lie in it. As the consequences of our sin inflame us, Jesus' blood cries out from the angry cross-pole that there is still mercy. Even now. Even after the bill is signed, and the tsunami of fatal consequences begins.

It could be that the health care serpent that has bitten us might also be used by the Great Physician to heal our land, if only we would acknowledge and confess our sin this Lent.
-----

Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic speaker, Scripture teacher and study author, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online. She is available to speak on the New Feminism, current events and your preferred theme. Visit her at www.pursuingthesummit.com for information and sample videos, or www.pursuingthesummit.blogspot.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.

Keywords:



NEWSLETTERS »

E-mail:       Zip Code: (ex. 90001)
Today's Headlines

Sign up for a roundup of the day's top stories. 5 days / week. See Sample

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 4 of 4 Comments

  1. Bulbajer
    4 years ago

    I thought the "serpents on the pole," or the caduceus as it is more commonly known, came from the object Hermes, Greek god of those who use the road (including those of medical profession), carried?

  2. Ed Burke
    4 years ago

    So you tie health insurance becoming available to poor people, as it has always been for the rich, as the equivalent of the Jews complaining about manna from heaven ? Sorry, I see no connection. Gods' generosity, goodness and care is often compromised by sinful men. The health reform legislation is simply the latest example. I, for one, thank our Good Father for the blessings in this legislation, while I am saddened by the pretension that abortion has any place in this issue. If I had to link this experience it would probably be Our Lord telling the parable of the wheat and the chaff. The wheat is still good, despite the presence of the chaff. I suggest we accept that as Part of the reality of, " this world ". We Catholics did make a positive difference, this program is far more pro-life than it would have been without our involvemnet. If Political leaders who, "say" they are Pro-Life had addressed this issue when they were in power, we might have had the result you and I prefer. Sadly Republicans did nothing except start a pre-emptive war when they were in power, an odd cause for people who routinely call themselves, "Pro-Life" !

  3. Chris
    4 years ago

    What a strange philosophy to link this reading with the wierd anti healthcare mania that seems to grip presumably otherwise sane people in the USA!

  4. Carrie
    4 years ago

    Excellent and insightful article.

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

More Easter / Lent

'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading


Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading


Holy Week

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading


Holy Thursday

HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading


Good Friday

On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading


Easter Sunday

Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading


Fasting and Abstinence

For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading


FAQs About Lent

Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading


Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now


What did you give up for Lent?

What did you give up for Lent?

From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »

Lent / Easter News

  • 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading

  • 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading

  • 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package.  It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery:  The Crowning ...Continue Reading

  • Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
    Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading

Good Friday

  • Good Friday

    On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.

    The Cross

    In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More

Ash Wednesday

  • Ash Wednesday

    Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

    The Ashes

    The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More

Stations of the Cross

  • Stations of the Cross

    Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.

    Opening Prayer

    ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations

Fasting & Abstinence

  • 'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35

    Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.

    Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
    Learn More »

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:1-6
I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to lead a life ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
[Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all it ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:54-59
He said again to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud looming up ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 24 Saint of the Day

St. Anthony Mary Claret
October 24: Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was born in Salient in ... Read More