The Israelites left Mount Hor by the road to the Sea of Suph, to skirt the land of Edom. On the way the people lost patience. They spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? For there is neither bread nor water here; we are sick of this unsatisfying food.’
At this God sent fiery serpents among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel. The people came and said to Moses, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede for us with the Lord to save us from these serpents.’ Moses interceded for the people, and the Lord answered him, ‘Make a fiery serpent and put it on a standard. If anyone is bitten and looks at it, he shall live.’ So Moses fashioned a bronze serpent which he put on a standard, and if anyone was bitten by a serpent, he looked at the bronze serpent and lived.
Again Jesus said to the Pharisees:
‘I am going away; you will look for me and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.’
The Jews said to one another, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, “Where I am going, you cannot come”?’ Jesus went on:
‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I have told you already: You will die in your sins. Yes, if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.’
So they said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus answered:
‘What I have told you from the outset. About you I have much to say and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is truthful, and what I have learnt from him I declare to the world.’
They failed to understand that he was talking to them about the Father. So Jesus said:
‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing of myself: what the Father has taught me is what I preach; he who sent me is with me, and has not left me to myself, for I always do what pleases him.’
As he was saying this, many came to believe in him.
“The one who sent me is with me…”
Today’s society has a very low tolerance for imperfection. This can be seen by the countless number of feedback channels readily available on websites, survey forms and on social media. It has become extremely easy for one to lodge an official complaint against the poor quality of service received from any staff. Due to the convenience of handphones and other personal devices, there is the instant gratification of lodging a complaint within the same breath of experiencing the bad service.
I know I am guilty of such behaviour, especially when I was younger, and my lesson came when I first started work. I had received a complaint from a client who wasn’t happy that I contacted her family, despite her not giving consent as there were safety issues involved. I was immediately summoned by my boss for an interrogation and scrutiny on what I did, and whether I did the right thing as the Public Relations Office had to respond to the complaint. That experience made me realize that although I might feel satisfied in airing my grievances from the ‘bad service’ I received, my actions might have caused not only unnecessary stress to the person, but the person might be fired from the job they needed to sustain their family.
In today’s first reading, the Israelites were unhappy with the ‘service’ provided by God and Moses, and they did not hesitate in complaining. Although the Lord punished the Israelites, He also showed them mercy when they were repentant. In today’s culture, where feedback and reviews can harm the status and social standing of a particular company, how many employers would show mercy to an employee who had received a complaint from a customer?
Brothers and sisters, let us take a step back to reflect on our words and actions when we are dissatisfied by a particular service provider, and ask ourselves whether we would be causing more harm than good by instantly providing our negative feedback. Jesus also reminds us that God is always with us because we are sent by Him, and thus we should always be beacons of light to those around us, guiding others back to the love of God.
(Today’s Oxygen by Hannah Huang)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the restraint to hold our tongue when we want to provide negative feedback and to give us the spirit of understanding and patience when we are faced with such situations.
Thanksgiving: Dear loving Father, thank you for giving us the chance to be light in the world and to show your love and generosity to the people we meet. Thank you for placing people in our paths as we learn to love as You loved.