March 31, 2020
Today, in Mercy, we end the month of March in a very different place from where we began it. On March 1st, I didn’t expect to be in midst of the Corona Desert did you?
Neither did the Israelites in today’s first reading expect to be in their particular desert. They had left the oppressions of Egypt with no certainties, but nonetheless with expectations. Now, after decades wandering the desert, those expectations turned into some typical complaints:
Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!
They even go so far as to blame a coincidental snake infestation on God, demanding that Moses get God to fix it.
What’s going on here with our wandering ancestors? I think that, in our current circumstances, it might be worthwhile to consider that question. Our Gospel reading points us toward an answer.
Jesus has invited his community to a journey too – a journey away from the oppressions of injustice, selfishness, and lovelessness; to a place where “law” is not used as an excuse for domination; to a new community where all Creation shares equally in the Bread of Life.
But the Pharisees don’t get it. They are lost in a desert of their own illusions, needs, and fears. They can’t see past the sandstorms of their own construction.
That’s why Jesus tells them:
I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come.
…. because you just can’t trust enough, let go enough to see that the journey is so much deeper than your present concerns. It is a journey of the soul from oppression to freedom, from selfishness to love, from blindness to light.
Jesus invites us too, even as we negotiate our desert journeys, to release our hearts to a world beyond appearances.
You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
Indeed, we must pay attention to the exigencies of our earthly journey, but today’s readings remind us that the true journey is infinitely deeper. That faith should inspire our hope, choices, and attitudes in what certainly seems like an awfully big desert.
Deserts can make us desperate, if we let them. Or they can shear us of everything that blocks our soul’s sight.
We may not see clearly beyond this momentary desert, but we are the children of an eternal and merciful God. May we trust our journey to that Immutable Loving Presence and allow ourselves to be made new.
Music: Everything is Holy Now – Peter Mayer
(Thanks to Sister Michele Gorman for sharing this beautiful song on Facebook)