© 2016 by Terry A. Modica
Think of the “pharisees” in your life, the unteachable people who are so sure they’re right that their pride blinds them to their errors and sins. We all have some degree of phariseeism in our thoughts.
Humility is the cure – taking an honest look at our fallibility to discover how we have strayed from God’s will so that our Lenten journey brings us back to him.
In the Gospel reading (Numbers 21:4-9), the Israelites realized that their straying began when they complained. Pride tells us that it’s right to complain because we know (as if we’re God) that life should be perfect. Pride tells us that suffering is proof that we should grumble and complain rather than praise God. Pride makes us impatient for the Promised Land, which we will not reach unless we do a lot of growing first.
Growth is a product of suffering. Complaints are a product of pride.
The Israelites were saved from their pride when God provided a tool of repentance, the bronze serpent mounted on a pole, which foreshadowed the crucifixion of the Messiah. The serpent represented their sins, just as Jesus would one day accept all the world’s sins upon himself and be “mounted” on the cross and raised up for all to see.
In the Gospel passage (John 8:21-30), the Pharisees are so sure they have the right understanding of God that they fail to recognize Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah. When people justify sins by claiming that that they are hearing God correctly, they become offensive whenever their understanding is challenged by reality. How do you handle this? Do you complain?
Analyze what you’re saying when you complain. Complaining about people means we’re condemning them. Complaining about a situation is condemning the God who allowed the situation to occur.
Look at how Jesus handled the Pharisees. He longed for them to hear and accept the truth. He could have complained about them, but instead he rested in the fact that the day would come when the truth would speak for itself.
If you feel like complaining, take your complaints to God and only to God; he understands your frustrations better than everyone else. Go to friends for good counsel, but don’t drag them into the fray by making them complain, too.
When we vent our anger to God alone, our complaints dissolve into his mercy. We lose interest in complaining. We are healed. We find peace. Does that happen when you vent with your friends? Let’s take a vow of silence rather than allow complaints to escape from our lips. God will resurrect us into a new life of peace and joy that lasts even when things go wrong.