Daily Reflection
August 13th, 1999
Tom Krettek, S.J.
Joshua 24:1-13
Matthew 19:3-12

Thinking and praying about these readings reminded me of a comment that Charles McCoy made about modern Liberalism and modern Conservatism.  He said that while they seem to be different, they are the same in that they make the same assumption about the world and human beings.  They are different only because of how Liberals and Conservatives think things should be done based on their shared assumption.

It seems to me that today's readings seem different but that they actually remind us of the same reality regarding our lives.  However, the reality that they remind us of is foreign to our way of thinking.

If my students are representative of our way of thinking about our lives and the world in which we live, then we are people who believe that we can only know what we have produced for ourselves and hold in our own minds.  However, today's reading tell us that what is true, what we can know and count on, is not what we produce for ourselves, but what has been created for and given to us.  This fact is expressed well in a comment about St. Augustine.

"Consider why Augustine goes to Italy: he seeks to advance his career, he has heard that students are more responsible there, he wants to get out of the Manichean community at Carthage.  Yet, having said all that, Augustine adds that the reason he went to Italy was because God was leading him to Ambrose."

The first reading from the book of Joshua brings to a close the story of the Exodus.  The Exodus story is the one we have been hearing in the readings of these past few weeks.  The Exodus was the pivotal event in Israelite history.  During the Babylonian Captivity, the Israelites looked to their history to understand their current situation and what they could hope for.   Understanding the Exodus meant understanding God.  Joshua is nearing death and so at the end he recalls the beginning; "From time immemorial, your ancestors . . ."  He goes on to recount the events that led to the Exodus, the Exodus itself, and then the occupation of the land.  The Exodus was the historical basis for their trusting in God.  God's faithfulness to the promise to be with and save them was fulfilled in the Exodus and gave them hope that God would do so again.  What is clear is that their history is the story of God's providential action on their behalf.  Just as their land and towns and vineyards have been given to them, so too their history has been given to rather than made by them.

This same reality is expressed in the Gospel; "Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning . . . " The reality that structures the world and human relationships is not produced by human beings.  That reality is established in the creative action of God.  Just as God created the Israelites as a people, so too does God create the reality that structures human relationships.

As is also clear from both the readings, human choice does not vanish.  One can still make choices.  However, some choices lead to freedom and life, while others do not.

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