This Sunday’s readings reminded me of the value of symbols. In the Old Testament reading [Numbers 21:4-9] we hear the grumblings of the Israelites in the desert where they are disgusted with their wretched food and left to die. So Moses prayed for his 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.” And since that time the medical doctor’s symbol of a serpent on a pole has endured, indicating their mission of saving people’s lives.
Then the Gospel text for this Sunday poignantly relates how the Son of God, Jesus Christ, must be lifted up on the cross “so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” [John 3:13-17] What a powerful symbol the cross is for us as it reminds us of the saving power of Jesus when we were lost in the bog of alcoholism.
Another symbol we have in our pocket is the AA coin with its inscription “To thine own self be true.” We cherish this AA coin as it carries the number of years we have been sober on the front and thus constantly reminds us of our new life. I carry both my crucifix and my AA coin in the same pocket each day. When I reach for my cellphone or handkerchief, I am immediately reminded of two very important things: one that I belong to the fellowship of AA from where I get needed support and, two, that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is with me always. What more do I need to not only get through today but, more importantly, truly enjoy this new day!