Friday, August 9, 2013

Bring the Water!

Morning prayer with the brothers in our chapel, but no Mass, because none of our priest friars are available to celebrate the Eucharist. So I will head downtown to Saint Anthony Shrine, where the Franciscan Friars live and serve the women and men who work in the business district, and the women and men who have nowhere to go and no work to do.

Running some errands, too: first, to purchase CharlieCards from the MBTA so my brothers who are new to Boston can get around by subway and bus. Then, to the supermarket for the groceries I need to prepare dinner this evening.

At some point I will sit down with my formation director to discuss the shape of the ministries I will be doing.

Been meditating this week on life in "Israel" and life in "Egypt," faith and fear, and selflessness and selfishness. The grumbling of the Israelites; the faith of the Canaanite woman; the reluctance of Moses: these stories convict me. How hard it is to de-center yourself! How hard it is to remember that God is the center of your life, your very existence! For the rest of my life I will be doing penance for being a usurper of privilege, or so I assure myself in chapel every morning. But where am I at the end of the day? Back on the golden throne I carved for myself? Should I not instead have no seat of my own but only sore knees and dirty, aching feet?

The Scripture shows that God was displeased with Moses because he was unwilling to satisfy the needs of the thirsting people and thus reveal the tender compassion of God. Granted, they were ungrateful for being freed from the oppression of Egypt, but they were thirsting nonetheless. Why the roughness with his people? Why the exclamation, “Listen to me, you rebels! Are we to bring water for you out of this rock?”

On the other hand, is not God unnecessarily rough on Moses? God's punishment on Moses -- being denied entry into the Promised Land -- seems exceedingly harsh; after all, Moses, albeit grudgingly, did strike the rock to release the life-giving water. But Moses' behavior at that moment of crisis in Massah and Meribah shows that even he still had too much of Egypt in him. Instead of giving God's gifts generously and graciously, he lorded it over the unhappy Israelites, taunting them, calling them rebels, performing the miracle out of spite and the desire to assert his authority over them.

In today's Gospel reading Jesus teaches us to learn from Moses' pride. We cannot serve God and continue going about making ourselves the master of our selves, much less the master of others. God is determined to free us from the suffering we bear because of other people's selfishness. But this is not so we can turn the tables on our oppressors and become their masters. God is also determined to free others, both the just and unjust, from the suffering they bear because of our own selfishness.

Will I let go of myself? Will I stop hugging the rock that bears the life-giving water, clinging to it for myself alone? Will I bring the water to others?

No comments:

Post a Comment