Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15
"What have you done for me TODAY!" That’s a contemporary saying that many of us use when we fear we aren’t able to meet our important needs and no one else steps in to help us or, perhaps, even notices our plight.
While that saying is a contemporary one, it’s clear that the experience of fear in this kind of situation is as old as the human family itself. In today’s first reading from Exodus we hear just such a complaint from the people of Israel on their journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. They’re hungry. They have no food. So, they blame Moses and Aaron for their situation. On their behalf Moses and Aaron have already overcome the oppression of Pharaoh, brought the people out of slavery in Egypt and opened the Red Sea so they could escape the Pharaoh’s pursuing army. But, of course, that’s not enough because they’re hungry now. "But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!" There’s no expression of gratitude for all Moses and Aaron have already done for them, only complaints and further demands.
Moses and Aaron feel helpless before the wrath of the people so they go to God seeking guidance. God’s response is truly remarkable. Clearly, God is not offended by the complaint or the continuing need of the people. God simply tells Moses and Aaron to gather the people and tell them that God will provide them the food they need. Quail will overrun their camp at evening and manna (bread) will be on the ground at dawn. A simple solution. God gives the people the nourishment they need.
The parable Jesus tells in today’s Gospel from Matthew also illustrates the overwhelming generosity of God. The image Jesus uses is that of the sower. In the parable the sower throws the seed everywhere. Not just on the rich soil but also on the path, the rocky ground and even among the thorns. The sower is hardly parsimonious but rather extravagant in sowing the seed.
Both readings remind us that God is more than generous in His gifts to us. They also illustrate how easy it can be for us to forget all that God’s done for us. But we need not fear because God will always respond to our needs with compassion and generosity.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director of the Development Office for Holy Cross Province and is stationed at Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago.