44:18-21, 23-29; 45:1-5
Psalm 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21
I have just returned from my annual week of retreat. As
I unpacked my bags, I was amazed at all the "extras" I packed, discovering
that I didn't need many of the clothes, or books or CD's that I had taken
with me, "just in case I might need them."
Perhaps I should have read today's Gospel before I packed last week. Jesus
sends his followers out to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Yet, he reminds them that they do not need extra clothing or sandals,
gold, silver or copper. "Without cost you have received; without cost
you are to give," freely sharing God's word and healing powers. Further
in the passage, he reminds the followers that it is not their responsibility
to force people to heed God's message. In fact, if people do not receive
the message, the followers are to shake the dust from their feet and leave.
I think Jesus' message was to "let go and let God."
Personally, I find it very difficult to live the "let go and let God" message.
In my overdrive to be a responsible person, I often get caught up in
my perspective of what needs to be done and how to do it. I may even
forget to invite God's spirit into the process. At times, I find it
hard to admit that I may need the help of God or another.
So, the Genesis' reading today led me into a reflection of how I handle
need in my life.
Judah and his brothers are in great need of food and grain. They know
that they will displease the governor by not bringing their youngest brother
to Egypt. Yet, Jacob, their father, insists that they beg the Egyptians
for food. Judah and his brothers are powerless before the govenor; yet,
out of their great need of food, they are willing to return to the governor
of Egypt in order to obtain the necessitites of life. However, not only
are they in the vulnerable state of need of food, the governor reveals himself
to be Joseph, the one whom the brothers had sold into slavery in Egypt many
years earlier. They are in need and at Joseph's mercy! However, Joseph
encourages them to not reproach themselves. Joseph sees God's presence
in the fact that now the Cannanites are able to obtain food from Egypt despite
the wicked act of family betrayal by the brothers.
When we are in need of someone's advice, or time or talents, are we too
caught up in our own vulnerable state of need, of feeling inadequate, to
allow others to be there for us?
And what if we are approached by others in need? Are we like Joseph,
open, vulnerable and responsive to the needs of others? Or are we tempted
to "lord it over the other," assume a superior attitude or wield power over
the other in need, emphasizing the giver/receiver relationship?
As a nation, how do we handle our times of need, realizing the importance
of interdependence with other nations? As a nation, how do we handle
our responsibility to share our wealth, our power, and our resources with
those in need?
Instead of bartering or prescribing outcomes for what we do, can we share
what we have and do it unconditionally and with trust - to "let go and let
God," personally and as a nation?
I pray for God's spirit of unconditional love and presence in my life as
an individual and in our national presence to others...when we are in need
and when we are approached by those in need.