Daily Reflection
August 7th, 2003
Daniel Patrick O'Reilly
Registrar's Office
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Numbers 20:1-13
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Matthew 16:13-23

Today’s scriptures show that one moment we can be close to God and the next we can feel miles away.  They are wonderful examples of the idea that my thoughts are not always God’s thoughts.  That even when I feel like I’m right in tune with God, all it takes is a moment to be completely out of tune.  I may think I am following God’s will, but am I?  In ways, this can be pretty discouraging.  I want to serve God, I want to do what’s right, but it’s so easy to drift away.  Thank God for second chances.  Grace is a glorious thing.  

In the book of Numbers, the children of Israel have been led out of slavery, they have been rescued from the Egyptians, they have witnessed many miracles.  One would think they would be grateful.  But they are thirsty.  And they are tired.  And they are whiney.  The Israelites have been privileged to see incredible and wondrous things, but it’s the little things that pull them away from God.  The Lord instructs Moses in how to provide water for the people.  Moses, in his anger and impatience, provides water, but does not follow God’s instructions and incurs the Lord’s anger.  The Psalmist sings to the Lord and warns not to be like the Israelites in the desert with hardened hearts, testing the Lord.  The verses in Matthew are some of my favorites.  Christ has been teaching and performing miracles and now it’s time for a test of the disciples.  “Who do the people say that I am?”  Well, some think John the Baptist or Elijah or Jeremiah or some other prophet.  “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter replies, “You are the Christ.”  He passes the test.  He is in tune.  Peter has made an incredible step and Christ praises him for it.  But we only have to go a few more lines.  Jesus is letting the disciples know that it’s not all going to be sweetness and light.  There is suffering and pain and a cross in the near future.  Peter takes Jesus aside and says “no way!”  And Jesus lays into him.  “Get behind me, Satan!”  It’s reassuring to me that even Peter can screw up.  That he can go from in tune, to totally out of tune.  And that he can still have the chance to get back in tune.

I attended a fireworks display this last July 4.  Huge explosions, flashes of every color, beautiful flashes of light, cascading sparks.  It was breath-takingly beautiful.  At the end of the show I applauded enthusiastically.  As we walked home from the show, I thought about some of the fireworks and marveled at the power.  Everything seemed so right.  The moments of being in tune are great.  After a while I realized someone was holding my hand.  My four year old had taken my hand and I had been so lost in thought that I hadn’t realized it.  He didn’t say that the fireworks had frightened him or he was afraid of the dark or tired or anything else, he just took my hand.  It made me smile and marvel.  I had been so lost in thought that I almost missed it.  I thought about how huge the explosions had been and how small the hand is.  And yet a hand can soothe, help, heal, reassure or simply be held.  Sometimes God is in the big things and sometimes in the small things.  My prayer would be that we can all discern God’s will and recognize God in all things, big or small.

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