First Reading: Numbers 21:4-9
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 101(102):2-3,16-21
Gospel Reading: John 8:21-30

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and its resultant effects on humanity, efforts were made in the laboratories to produce an effective vaccine against the novel disease in order to eradicate it. This is so because vaccinations help to build the body’s immunity to a disease, preventing one from contracting and spreading the disease. The key to interpreting today’s readings is typically understanding how vaccinations are made. According to medical research, vaccines are created utilizing the pathogen’s virus or bacteria. For example, in the case of COVID-19, the virus is collected, goes through a process in the laboratory, and as a result is either killed or weakened. The body is then given an injection of this dead (COVID-19) virus; this is often done by giving a shot in the arm or leg. The body recognizes the foreign antigen (that has been added) and makes antibodies to combat it. The body then retains these antibodies for a very long time—in many cases, for the remainder of one’s life—so that if one is ever exposed to COVID-19 again, his body will be able to fight it off and he won’t get sick. In relation to the antecedent, we can talk of our spiritual vaccine and immunization received in Christ. How is this possible? As a result of sin, mankind was faced with a deadly “spiritual virus” called “death”; that is why the Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (cf. Rom. 6:23). However, Christ took our sins (and death) upon himself and killed it on the Cross of Calvary through his own death and resurrection, and by destroying our “death sentence”, we gain eternal salvation (spiritual vaccine) by believing in him through the reception of the Sacraments.

This is reminiscent of what happened to the people of God in the First Reading (cf. Numbers 21:4-9), illustrating a kind of spiritual vaccine they received in the desert. We were told that after rebelling against God and Moses, they were bitten by fiery serpents, which led to the death of many of them. In a spirit of repentance, they cried to God, and God ordered Moses to make an image of a bronze serpent, and whoever is bitten and looked at it would be healed. Here, the lifeless serpent served as a “spiritual vaccine” for the people (just as a lifeless virus serves), such that when it was looked at, it overcame the effects of the poisonous serpent. Needless to say, the bronze serpent raised on a standard was a prefiguration of the death of Christ on the Cross which won for us our redemption.

The penitential season of Lent grants us the opportunity of a sincere conversion and believing firmly in the effects of Christ’s death and our reception of its benefits through the Sacraments. However, if we refuse to believe in him, we shall perish like the Jews who rejected him, as Christ rightly stated in today’s Gospel Reading (cf. John 8:21-30). Christ told them, “You will die in your sins. Yes, if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” And in speaking figuratively of his death (the means of salvation), he recalls the same way the people of old (in the first reading) received their salvation by looking at the bronze serpent which was lifted up on the standard: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He…”

Dear friends in Christ, may we continue to hold firm to the spiritual vaccine offered to us by Christ (through his death and resurrection) and received in the Sacraments. Therefore, we must acknowledge our iniquities and pray earnestly to God for forgiveness like the Jews in the desert and also like today’s Psalmist [Ps. 101(102):2-3,16-21]: “O Lord, listen to my prayer and let my cry for help reach you. Do not hide your face from me on the day of my distress. Turn your ear towards me and answer me quickly when I call.”

© By Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo. /
PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?


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Chinaka Justin Mbaeri

A staunch Roman Catholic and an Apologist of the Christian faith. More about him here.

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Lawrence Okonofua
Lawrence Okonofua
1 year ago

Lord grant us presence of mind always and at all times and everywhere to flee from the evil that lies hidden in our hearts.

Onwuakpa Okwuchukwu Veronica
Onwuakpa Okwuchukwu Veronica
1 year ago

Thanks Padre for this wonderful reflection. May God grant us the grace to always remain spiritual vaccinated. Amen

1 year ago

Amen Thanks

1 year ago

Amen! Thank you Fr

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