Today’s readings extend to us a calling and a directive, a commitment and an invitation. The feast day honors Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, “Lily of the Mohawks.” I think it is fitting with readings so intent on confirming a commitment to us and inviting us to share in the promises of Christ that the honoree so clearly demonstrated commitment and a willingness to take that invitation.
It seems that as I have written reflections, I am always commenting upon the love of the Lord and the promises made to us that so clearly mirror that love. The readings do differ, however, in that the Old Testament declaration emphasized the more paternal view of the Lord as protector while the New Testament gospel is more fraternal with Jesus as a partner in our burdens. Both display the love for us and the saving grace available if only we choose it.
The first reading reveals a loving Father who expresses concern for His children, yet still is very stern in His approach. He chooses to exercise the mighty power that is His to “make right” the situation for His children. The message is clear to Moses that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is present and willing to make a commitment to the chosen people to save them. When asked his name, God replies “I am who am.” The great I AM, the eternal God who promises us the future with him and freedom from our sufferings. While the sufferings at that time were very visible, the same promise holds for us to this day. Our sufferings (visible or invisible) are made less with our faith and in the covenant with our Lord and Savior. Does that mean they magically disappear? No, but we have the strength to deal with them and the support to see us through them to the other side. Even as the Lord speaks, there is recognition that the cause of the suffering will not be easily dismissed but with faith we will make it through.
The responsorial psalm echoes the ideas of a covenant, a commitment between the Lord and His people. The endurance of that covenant is evident in each refrain as we are reminded that “the Lord remembers his covenant for ever.” How often we forget the agreement and turn our backs to God. Then we project that God somehow has deserted us. Yet, if we open our eyes and our hearts, God is there, always, waiting for us. There is a poem of a man who wants to see and hear God yet the man ignores that God is there in the sounds, the sights, and even the touch of the butterfly on his cheek. An up-dated version adds the presence of God through our electronic media as well (not unlike our daily reflections). I love the reminder from the psalm that God remembers forever; we are the ones with short-term memory loss.
The gospel is a plea from Jesus, an inducement to us to join Him. We have only to accept him as a Lord and Savior and the shared yoke is ours. That yoke provides for loving care and saving grace. I recently spent some time fulfilling my yearly two-week military obligation. I was pleasantly surprised to find some members of the unit very open in their commitments and beliefs in the power of the Lord and the teaching of Christ Jesus. One young man wore a tee-shirt with “70 times 7” printed on the front. Our discussions focused on the teachings of forgiveness and the expectation for us to fulfill those teachings on a daily basis. One of my prayers as I prepared for this time away was that others would see the face of Christ in me. I thought of the many times throughout that two-week period, where I failed to show that to my companions. I was most grateful for those people who were put there to remind me of my promises and also the forgiveness for my failings. I seem to need the “70 times 7” and am so grateful that it is there for me.
In summary, these readings left me with hope. Hope for people who are loved and saved. Hope for the physical earth so loved by “the Lily of the Mohawks” as we honor her today. Hope for the opportunity to see God in my surroundings. Hope for the recognition of people put into my life just when I need them. Hope for forgiveness of my failings with a covenant that lasts forever and a Savior who will give me rest.
We are blessed, indeed, especially when our hearts are open. I’ve included the poem to remind us all of the eternal presence of God.
The man whispered, "God, speak to me"
So the man yelled "God speak to me!"
The man looked around and said, "God let me see you."
And the man shouted, "God show me a miracle!"
So the man cried out in despair,
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