Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 392

I am concerned about you
and about the way you are being treated in Egypt;
so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt
into… a land flowing with milk and honey.

The Word of God in this passage is enormously reassuring to us but, at the time, it must have been puzzling. The Lord of Heaven and Earth had yet to demonstrate his authority to the Hebrews by leading them out of Egypt with mighty hand and outstretched arm. When Moses arrived with God’s greetings from the desert, they could not imagine what God might do for them. Perhaps they had some vague memories of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the God they worshipped; but, as the fighting between Hebrew men demonstrates, that memory no longer bound them together.

They treated one another as the Egyptians treated them, with violence and contempt. Tragically, that is what we have come to expect. The oppressed look for deliverance but often fail to see the oppression embedded in their hearts. Whether they are Irish under English rule, Palestinians in Israel or African-Americans in the United States, the disenfranchised treat one another as they are treated. Abused children become abusive parents, even as they swear they will never be like their parents. Former colonies of the European empires still struggle with corruption, long after their corrupt masters have left. Such is the manner of our fallen human nature.

The Gospel of Freedom teaches us a better way, beginning with,

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Freedom begins, in my experience, in silence. First, opponents stop shouting at one another; then they notice the rage that smolders in their own hearts. An argument that lasted five minutes continues days, weeks and years later – until we ask, “When, Lord, does it stop?”

That is when we hear, “Come to me….” Ancient Israelites fled to the mountains and caves when enemies approached. We know from our experience of Afghanistan how difficult it is to find people like that. We too must flee to the “caverns” of Jesus’ wounded heart and take refuge in that silence. We must creep so deep into those subterranean passages that we can no longer hear the shouting of our embittered, traumatized minds. When the Lord sends us out again we take his shalom with us – and bring it to others.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, brilliant reflection, instructive, encouraging and consoling. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.