Monday, July 17, 2017

Our past often defines who we are and is how we understand and view the events of our lives.

July 17, 2017

Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 389

EX 1:8-14, 22

PS 124:1B-3, 4-6, 7-8

MT 10:34—11:1

Our past often defines who we are and is how we understand and view the events of our lives.   There are two dangers though.  The first is that we live only in the past and never advance in our understanding.  Tradition just for the sake of tradition is something that simply stagnates growth and prevents innovation.  The other mistake is just as bad, if not worse.   That mistake is to ignore all of our past and only focus on the now.   We must learn from our past if we are to have a better future.   Too often we forget not only who we were, but who we are now, and that prevents us from becoming who we were created to be.

The story of the Israelites in Egypt is one that had powerful beginnings.  Joseph rose to power with Pharaoh and his people were living in prosperity.   Then came new rulers who didn’t know the past, didn’t know the history.  They put the Egyptians into slavery and forced them to work for them, even killing their children to keep them from becoming more powerful and taking over.  The problem is that often when people are persecuted and oppressed it’s not just their captors who forget who they are, they themselves begin to question their own worth.  When we hear the story of the Exodus in the next few weeks we will see the Israelites forgetting what freedom is and longing to be back in Egypt with its flesh pots and comforts.

I think we Christians have done much the same in today’s society.   We’ve become so much a part of the daily life that we have separated ourselves in many cases from the Church of the first Christians, and have forgotten who we were.   We also have taken on the characteristics of the world and allowed in many denominations the religion to become so much like the worldly desires and passions of the flesh that you can scarcely tell who the Christian is and who the non-Christian is.  They all begin to look just like each other.  Becoming Christ like is not something that only happens after death.  It’s something we should be trying to do now, here, every moment of our lives.  

Just like the Israelites in the desert, we find that our flesh desires comfort, so much so that we forget the beauty of what Christ has given us.  We reject the food from the Heavens for the more familiar food of our youth and our comforts.   It becomes a habit to the point that we would rather be at a baseball game than at Church.  Our friends pressure us to do this or that, it’s just one more drink!  Loosen up, you can miss Church one weekend!  Why do you gotta be so strict, live a little! That’s exactly what Jesus is reminding us to steel ourselves for in the Gospel.  When we reject the morality of the world, when we begin to try to live authentic lives of piety and good works, it drives a wedge between ourselves and the fleshpots of our own Egypts.  The question is: are we going to follow Jesus in our Exodus to freedom?  Or are we going to mope around in the desert of this world missing the things of our past?