As a starter let us take a hint from the closing verses of TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [ISAIAH 25: 6 - 10a]. One phrase is repeated in two consecutive sentences....
How often do we take real time to see beyond the immediate, look deeper into situations, and make an effort to discover where the Lord God is in our difficulties, challenges, suffering and pain? Each and every difficulty, disappointment, and challenge presents us with an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. It was a lesson which proved difficult for the Israelites in the dessert and afterwards. Their reluctance is clearly portrayed in both our OLD TESTAMENT [EXODUS 16: 2 – 4. 12 – 15] and GOSPEL [JOHN 6: 24 – 35] extracts.
This reflection is being prepared during the morning when, much earlier, I read one of the regular weekly newspaper Columns in The Mercury. Therein appeared two incisive comments ….. (i) “nobody is exempt from life’s uncertainties,” and (ii) “there is much to be learnt from one tragedy to another.” [DEVI RAJAB]
Our Exodus reading tells us that
“the whole congregation of the sons of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.” It had been easy for them to feel, think and proclaim that God is great when they experienced his mighty hand and outstretched arm as he led them through the Red Sea. Now, things are different.
It is easy for us to be at peace, comfortable and content with God when everything goes splendidly. Do we take this for granted, our due which we have earned – as if the Lord has no option? However, as a result of these good times and events, how often do we take time to ask ourselves what exactly God-in-Christ is asking of us? In addition to thanksgiving do we ask ourselves how would the Lord want us to
RESPOND? We should also be doing exactly the same thing in the face of ‘tragedy’. Christians are not exempt from life and living. We were never intended to be.
Exodus tells us that the Lord responded by providing meat and bread. We should not, however, overlook what God said to Moses –
“that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.” The good things of life are a test – how do we use them and what do we learn from them? What precisely did the Israelites learn from the immediate provisions of food? We all know that later on, as they progressed from one uncertainty to the next, they appeared to have failed the test because we eventually hear they again complained to Moses that “we are tired of this unsatisfying food.” Too often there appears the tendency for us to want more and more while feeling ourselves badly done by when things go dreadfully wrong. What did Job say? “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Against this norm how do I measure in the face of life’s uncertainties and tragedies?
Saint Paul in the
NEW TESTAMENT READING [EPHESIANS 4: 17. 20 – 24] challenges each one of us: “you must no longer walk as the Gentiles walk … you did not so learn Christ!” TODAY’S PSALM [78 or 77] presents this challenge in the form of a profession of faith which states that “these things we have heard and understood.” Have we really heard and understood them?
It is apparent from the Gospel reading that the Jews had failed to learn and understand. This week we are again given another indication of Eucharist,
“the bread of life.” Every time we open our hands to receive this bread and wine we say, “AMEN!” We proclaim we have both heard and understood – heard and understood that the Lord is WITH US – with us in all the uncertainties and sufferings of life and living. We should never hunger or thirst – even “in the wilderness.”