Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
“On the mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples….”
“…Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you
are at my side….”
“Jesus called his disciples to him and said: ‘My heart is moved
with pity for the crowd. By now they have been with me three days,
and have nothing to eat. I do not wish to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way.”
As I read God’s Word for today, I feel my heart is listening with newly developed skills. My listening-to-God skills have grown stronger, since that indescribable day almost three months ago in September, and I am grateful for that blessing. The strength of the force of so many people praying and doing good things for others; putting other people in front of themselves, has created a charge in our atmosphere that is hard not to feel. Every day, all over the world, there is another opportunity to hear God and to see Him work in and through His people. Each day some special kindness or act of self-giving is revealed; it’s in our news, and people are talking about these acts of kindness. Today’s Gospel message in Matthew had more meaning as I read the familiar story of Jesus showing his concern for a crowd who was famished, because they had been following Him for 3 days. He tells the disciples that He wants to make sure they have something to eat. In fact the story of Jesus curing all of the ailments of the crowds that followed Him, and then feeding them is told numerous times. How many times have I heard it and thought, oh, that’s nice that Jesus healed so many people. I have a few hurts, so I can sort of relate to the healing part of the story. I haven’t known hunger, and that part of the story fades out for me. The story ends and I go on with my day. There is something about not feeling their pain that decreased the impact of the message for me. But, today as I read the story I felt some of the compassion Jesus felt for those people of so long ago. And because I felt His compassion, I was pulled deeper into the story. I know my changed heart is recent and it is about seeing the suffering of the people today, and watching the world suffer with them, as we’ve all been moved to tears and been moved to help. The New York tragedy has softened my heart and today’s readings were able to sink in a little further.
From Isaiah, when I read the words, “On the mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples” (Is 25:7), I couldn’t help but think; it is as though a veil has been lifted and we see things more clearly now. We are not as preoccupied with our own individual troubles; they just don’t have the same weight as before.
Our reading from Psalm 23 spoke strongly to me too, since its words are so often read at funerals. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side. On top of the deaths resulting from September 11th, I’ve been to the funerals of two friends who died in their forties in the last two months. The next morning after I read these readings I was awakening to the radio and I heard a few sentences from Kahlil Gibran’s, The Prophet, speaking on children: “…Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you….”
The words are all the same; it’s just that my heart is listening now, so in that way the words are all new. We all belong to God, and we always have. I thank you God, for all the good that is coming out of so much evil. I pray that we might keep listening to You with our hearts, and that we keep the lines of communication with You open, for we have seen that we can all be one, and our hearts could hardly hold all that love. We are all connected as a people, and the planet really isn’t such a big place today.
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