Monday, July 24, 2017

Between a Rock and Hard Place

July 24, 2017

Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 395

EX 14:5-18

EX 15:1BC-2, 3-4, 5-6

MT 12:38-42

The Israelites had found a new freedom as they journeyed out of Egypt.  The men and women who had seen God work his mighty miracles for them, saving them from the hand of Pharaoh, now marched around the countryside and eventually camped at Pi-hahiroth.  There they found themselves in a very dire predicament indeed.  To the north was Etham, the “shut in”.   They couldn’t go in that direction.  To the west was the Migdol watch tower, a rough and unpleasant terrain that would be difficult to pass.  To the south was the mouth of Pi-hahiroth, surrounded by water.   To the east the red sea, and the looming mountain of the ocean god, Baal-zephon.  Surrounded by dead ends, rough waters, and false gods; they panicked at the sight of the Egyptian army in all it’s might approaching from the only pass to the south west.  

They begin to grumble against God and Moses.  The same people who watched the plagues flow freely on the nation approaching in chariots could see no way for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to free them from this predicament.   They start demanding another sign.  They start wishing they were back in slavery, why come out into freedom just to die in the desert?  Give us back our sins, our flesh pots, and our bondage!  Moses tells them to be still!  In Hebrew it is written, “Have peace!”  Then God tells Moses, “Why are you calling out to me?” Did Moses know the plan?  Maybe, maybe not.  What God reminded Moses was just follow through.  Stand your ground, and go where I tell you when I tell you.

How often do we start out strong on the walk in faith and then when confronted with the mountains of temptation looming in the distance, surrounded by the enticements of our old lives, and hemmed in by the rocks of confrontation begin to doubt?  Begin to grumble and cry out?  Why do I go through all this?  Why put me through all this?  Look at them over there, blessed beyond measure and living a life of luxury and sin, while I struggle?  God tells you first off to have peace!  You know the plan.    Secondly, stand firmly on the solid ground.   The ground of your Baptism, the ground that parted the waters of eternal life and allowed you to march through.  Then to march where and when He tells you to.  Keep trudging through the path He has shown you until you get to the other side.

Almost 1500 years later, with God himself standing mere feet in front of them, the Israelites gathered around Jesus demanding yet again another sign.   They had seen Him feed people, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and even bring the dead to life.  They who knew the stories of their ancestors and that God provided said: “Just show me a sign that it’s all real, just one more!” Oh how we bargain with God!   Just make it clear to me God and then I’ll start moving.   Tell me one more time!  Like Jim Carrey in the movie Bruce Almighty, we drive down a road filled with signs telling us we are going the wrong way and keep demanding for a different answer, one we are more comfortable with.  God has given us the greatest sign of all, in the risen Lord.   Then He gave us the Eucharist in which we encounter that same Christ every single day if we choose in the Mass.   So have peace, stand firm in your faith, and receive Him as you march forth on the ground He has swept clear of all that stands in your way, into eternal life.