We hear in our first reading from the Book of Numbers how frustrated the Israelites are as they continued the journey to the Promised Land. We see very clearly that they were close to the breaking point. They grumbled and complained against God and Moses and just wanted it to be over! God was disappointed in their perceived lack of faith and trust and sent down a painful punishment upon them in the form of seraph serpents. Then the Israelites begged forgiveness for their impatience and disloyalty. God relented, forgave them and in turn, the Israelites promised obedience and trust in God’s unconditional love and mercy.
We all have had moments of impatience and frustration in our lives when we failed to see the hand of our loving God or hear and believe in the Good News that is staring us right in the face. We are a privileged people who should never want for anything, but instead time and time again we are never satisfied and grumble and complain that life is so unfair. The grass always looks greener on the other side, the glass is always half empty. We want warm weather, but not too warm. We look forward to that long-awaited vacation until the plane is late or gas prices are too high forcing us to go to plan B which may not be as much fun or convenient. We become just like the Israelites in a flash!
During this Lenten season, we are called to put aside our self-centered ways. We are called to look in the mirror and see ourselves as God sees us. We are called to be people of compassion, mercy and love, to see the face of God in our sisters and brothers who suffer injustice, illness, homelessness and prejudices. Jesus is a forgiving and loving God who calls us to embody that love and concern for all those around us who are at that breaking point that the Israelites found themselves in when the journey became too long and difficult.
In a few short days, we will move into Holy Week. May this be a time during which we recommit ourselves to the service of others as we wash one another’s feet and feast at the banquet Table of the Lord. May the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ be always in our hearts as we bring our humble and penitent selves to reverence the Cross upon which our Savior gave his life for us. May we celebrate with Easter joy at the week’s end as we rejoice that the tomb is empty and Jesus is Alive and comes among us bringing new life for all. Amen.
Theresa Secord is a retired Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.