Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 9, 2019
Today, in Mercy, we have the first of a few readings from the Book of Deuteronomy. In today’s passage, Moses gives the first of three speeches to the community. These speeches are a sort of manifesto a family patriarch might give before he dies, framing the family history and code to direct coming generations.
The reading falls on a most appropriate day for me.
Today would be my Dad’s 104th birthday.
The occasion invites me to recount all the blessings
given to him, me, and our family.
When we, as people of faith, step back from our lives in reverence, we realize God’s immense goodness to us. Moses encourages his people to do just such stepping back:
Ask now of the days of old, before your time,
ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other:
Did anything so great ever happen before?
We might ask ourselves the same thing.
- How has God been with me and my family through our lifetimes, and through the generations that preceded us?
- In both our lights and darknesses, how has God continually called us to relationship?
- How have we revealed God’s voice to one another by our love, honesty, support, patient accompaniment, generous correction and forgiveness?
- How have these gifts to one another allowed us to become gifts to the larger world?
- What am I passing on to the next generation of the fidelity and sacrifice which has blessed me?
When I think of my Dad, there are so many symbols that show how he answered those questions with his life. They aren’t big manifestos like those of Moses. Instead:
- a frayed prayer book that I watched him finger daily
- an old receipt for my bicycle bought in incremental payments he could barely afford
- his sincere distress one Assumption Day when he had forgotten to go to Mass
- his steadfast attempt to work even when illness weakened him and his humble trust in God when that weakness appeared to triumph
- a treasured conversation about his hope for heaven
- the appreciation now, in my maturity, of his thousand quiet acts of faith and love
All of us might spend some time in gratitude for the legacy of faith and love we have received. No family is perfect, and the grace may come to us in clarity or in disguise. But it comes.
There are fractures and tears in every family. There were some even in Moses’ “family” and Moses himself! And we cannot magically heal them all. But God asks us to remember that God abides with us even in any fragmentation. Just as the poet Leonard Cohen sings:
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
If what we remember in our family history are weaknesses, how have they made us stronger? If what we remember are strengths, how have they made us more generous? In either case, how have we heard God’s voice in our story? How have we let the Light in?
As Moses tells his people:
This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart,
that the LORD is God
in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
Music: As for Me and My House – Promise Keepers