August 2, 2021
by Ed Morse
Creighton University's School of Law
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 407

Numbers 11:4b-15
Psalm 81:12-13, 14-15, 16-17
Matthew 14:13-21
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Rediscovering Corporal Works of Mercy

Today’s readings provide different reactions to stressful and difficult situations.  Life is full of these challenges that constantly test us.  Can we grow in faith and persevere through them?  Or do we resort to complaints and recriminations, possibly aided by hagiographic recollections that do not reflect reality?  Sadly, the answer for us is yes -- we are capable of all these reactions.  What can we learn from them?

In the first reading, Moses is weary of his people’s complaints about their living conditions during their flight from Egypt.  They can remember only sweetness and light about their former life – a land with fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, and garlic.  Add some wine and you have the start of a beautiful Mediterranean meal!  But then there was the slavery and oppression from which they had prayed for deliverance for hundreds of years.  What about that, folks?  They are “famished” but apparently eating pretty well every day with food that comes from the very hand of God.

Moses’ prayers are remarkably candid.  He subtly reminds God of His duty as the progenitor of this people, and he complains about the responsibility foisted upon him as the leader of this people.  He refers to himself as an unwilling foster father carrying around a child not his own.  What is one to do about this burden – bear up under it?  Or die first?  Poor Moses.  But one cannot help but smile when reading his complaints.  We have all been there in our own way.  Our humanity is brittle and we are prone to break down from time to time.  Or as we say in our house, sometimes we blow a gasket. 

The gospel shows us that our Lord is not just a type of savior like Moses but the Savior of the World.  The death of his cousin, John the Baptist, hit Jesus hard.  He withdrew for a time of prayer and reflection, but the needy people still found him.  Instead of telling them to go home and give him some space (which he probably needed), Jesus pities them and meets their needs.  

But note that Jesus decided to do a little outsourcing when it came to their need for food.  He told the disciples to “give them some food yourselves.”   The disciples rustled up some loaves and fishes, which were inadequate for the demand.  But Jesus showed himself to be the Lord of all creation through His work of miraculous multiplication.  In doing so, he allowed the disciples participate in the midst of that miracle, to sense this wonder, and to grow their faith.   

Lord, deliver us from petulance that makes us prone to complain, rather than to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy and to call to mind your faithfulness to us through past trials.  Help us to be patient with one another, especially when we blow a gasket.  Help us to also remember your love for us endures, even in those times when our brittleness reveals itself.  Teach us to bear up and to keep trusting you in the midst of life’s challenges – and to be on the lookout for fellow pilgrims who may need a boost during their journey.  Thanks be to God.

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