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Posts tagged ‘Moses’

Second Sunday of Lent: the Transfiguration


Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Spring is supposed to be here in three days.  I don’t know if this was one of the darkest winters in history, but it sure has been one of the coldest on record!  We might have even set some records for snowfall.  The snow is beautiful when it first comes down, covering the earth in a pure blanket of white.  But after months of cold, when the snow has turned to a dirty, slushy and crusty consistency, it’s easy to get sick of it all.  When I was in college, we called February the Dark Ages.  By this time each year, we were sick of the cold, the dark, and the overcast skies.

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New Moses


On this Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.

It was a devastating defeat.  After surviving the regular season, the 8th grade boys looked poised to claim a place in the Catholic Youth Organization championship game.  Having handily won every regular season game, they quickly dispatched their first three playoff opponents, winning districts and regionals and setting up the ultimate semi-final showdown:  French saint vs. French saint.  St. Joan of Arc on the one side squaring off against St. Thérèse of Lisieux–our Little Flower–on the other.

And then the unthinkable happened.  SJA shut down the mighty Little Flower, dominating the entire game and sending my son and his teammates home to prepare for their Spring sports.

The team was in shock—my son, inconsolable.

How to help my son?  How do I make lemonade?  I knew there was a valuable lesson in this loss.  How do I convey that to my son?

As we left De La Salle High School, something caught my eye: two stone tablets on a monument in the parking lot.  Instead of the Ten Commandments, these tablets contained the Beatitudes.  And so, I read–and prayed:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Lord, please use this loss to teach my son to seek only the glories you offer.
  • Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Thank you for giving my son this opportunity to mourn so he can learn to comfort others.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.  Please teach my son humility in this loss.
  • Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.  Please teach my son priorities, so he knows there are higher things to fight for than victory in sports.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.  Please help my son learn to show mercy in victory.
  • Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.  Please use this loss to cleanse my son of all self-focus.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  Please help my son to learn how to love in loss and bring Your peace to his teammates and adversaries.
  • Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.   Please give my son the courage to do what is right no matter the consequences.
  • Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.  Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.   Please embolden my son in his faith that he can face those who ridicule our faith.

As I left, I reflected on this wonderful juxtaposition:  the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments.  Moses brought down from the mountain ten directives on how to live.  Jesus climbed the mountain to deliver nine entreaties on how to live fully.

And extending the comparison:  Moses asked God for food for the Israelites and was answered with daily bread in the form of manna.  Jesus came to give us Himself, the true Bread of Life.

As I reflected on the great gift of the Eucharist, I was reminded of my primary role as father:  to teach my kids—through example and instruction—to hunger for Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Day 30-1

Every defeat we experience is an opportunity for us to draw closer to God and to love one another.
Day 30-2

Aside

A New Identity


On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.  This week we continue our focus on the Exodus and particularly focus on the Israelites’ struggles in the desert.

After freeing the Israelites from the bondage of slavery, God gives them a new identity:  not only are they His people, but they are to be a “priestly” people.

This new identity requires them to obey His commands.  Or more accurately, “you obey me completely and keep my covenant.”  In return, “you will be my treasured possession among all peoples, though all the earth is mine.”  Ex. 19:05.

God tells the Israelites that their status as a nation will not be defined by political power, by military might or by natural resources.  The Israelites will find their identity in their relationship with God:  “You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.”  Ex. 19:6.

A Californian once explained to me how Californians differ from the rest of Americans:  whereas most Americans identify themselves by their work—what they do for a living, Californians define themselves by their play—what they do for fun.

Q:  “So, what do you do?”

A1:  “I’m a lawyer.”  OR

A2:  “I’m a surfer.”

To me, either approach falls short of true identity.  Maybe the question predetermines the answer, but in either answer, identity is based on activity.

What if the question was:  “who are you?”  This question is not often asked, perhaps because it begs a more intimate response.  “Who are you?” probes more deeply than “what do you do?”

I think, however, that most of us answer the second question (“what do I do”) as a way to identify themselves (“who am I.”)

But as a chosen people, the Israelites define themselves first by their relationship with God, their Covenant.  They are a holy nation.

If I first identify who I am by my relationship with God, then my actions—what I do—must follow the example of Joshua:

“As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15.

Day 26-2

This Lent I hope to realign my priorities with God’s plan, to seek only His will.

Day 26-1

True Liberation


On this Saturday of the Third Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.

After God freed the Israelites from Egypt, He sent them through the unfamiliar terrain of the wilderness and then the desert. At first grateful for their freedom, the Israelites later regretted the change and resented their deliverer:

“If only we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our kettles of meat and ate our fill of bread! But you have led us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of famine!” Ex. 16:3.

They complained that God delivered them from a land of plenty—where their bodily needs were met—to the sparsity of the desert and wilderness.

God heard their cry and provided for His people, but on His terms. Each day He provided their daily allotment of quail and manna. And He gave them water from a rock. Through this rationing, the Israelites learned to look to God for all their needs.

Does God teach me this lesson?

For me, sometimes God shakes me out of the complacency of routine to remind me how much I need Him, and how much I can rely on His provisions. For example, a few years ago I traveled to Benin, a beautiful country on the Atlantic coast of Africa.

I thoroughly prepared for the trip, researching the culture, the U.S. Embassy contacts, etc. Because of this, my two weeks there were enjoyable and I settled into a busy yet comfortable routine. On the trip back, however, I had to take a detour through Burkina Faso, a country I hadn’t researched, hadn’t prepared for, and knew nothing about. My flight reservation—originally through a major European carrier—changed to a small African “puddle jumper” whose safety was questionable. And I was landing in Burkina Faso at night.

I was already nervous about the changed itinerary, and my nerves were strained even further when my initial flight was delayed, causing me to miss my connection in Burkina Faso. And my connection was the last flight out that night! So, I was stuck in a foreign airport in an unknown land in the middle of the night. I was scared!

I leaned heavily on God for my sanity. Over and over again, I prayed “Hail Mary” until some semblance of calm settled over me.

God taught me to rely on Him and remember that all success comes from Him and all glory belongs to Him.

Maybe that is God’s intent when I find myself in uncomfortable situations. Maybe when God uproots me, it is because He wants me to draw all I need from Him. He knows that I can’t get what I truly need from any other source than the soil of His love.

Day 25-1

When I turn to God as my sole provider, only then do I find true freedom. And when I think that I am free when I take back the reigns, that is when my life goes haywire. Day 25-2

An Unlikely Hero


On this Friday of the Third Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.

 When God selects Moses to bear His message and deliver His people, Moses balks.

“If you please, my Lord, send someone else!”  Ex. 4:13.

Moses doesn’t feel up to the task and throws up roadblock after roadblock.

I’m nobody!”

My family will say ‘who died and made you king?‘”

What if no one listens?

I stutter.  I’m no good at public speaking!”

Excuse after excuse after excuse.  Finally, God relented and allowed Moses to bring his brother, Aaron, as his mouthpiece.

This exchange between God and Moses reminds me of many-a-scene repeated at my home.

Mom:  “Pick up your stuff off the family room floor!  I’m not your maid!”

Son:  “I can’t, because …”

    1. “I’m doing my homework!”
    2. “My leg is sore!”
    3. “I’m eating!”
    4. “I have to leave for basketball practice!”
    5. “You’re mean!”

It’s like those World War II movies when antiaircraft gunners send up a barrage of flak to bring down incoming Kamikaze pilots.

Not that I’m immunized against this excuse-making disease.

  • I watch certain shows the kids can’t because “I’m the Dad!”  
  • I tell off-color jokes because “they’re harmless!”  
  • I exceed speed limits because “I’m going with the flow of traffic!” (Read: “everybody is doing it!”)

Have I used excuses to avoid a tasking?  Sure.  As a recent example, my wife has been asking me to look over the tax paperwork and submit our return.  I kept delaying, waiting until we had all the form; w-2s, 1099s, etc.  In hindsight, this was merely a delaying tactic to put off an unpleasant task.  I could have started with what we had.

When it comes to my faith, I’m embarrassed to admit that I am just as excuse-prone.  Volunteer at Church?  “I’m too busy.”  Work the fish fry?  “That’s family night.”  Stop by for Eucharistic Adoration?  “That’s not my style.”  Excuses, excuses, excuses.

This Lent is a great opportunity to break myself of this problem.

Day 24-2
Instead of trying to worm my way out of serving God, I hope I respond as Isaiah:  “Here I am, send me!Day 24-1

God’s Plan for Moses


On this Thursday of the Third Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.

God hears His people crying out to Him from captivity in Egypt.  So He tasks Moses with delivering the Israelites from Egypt—Moses, who was already rejected by his kinfolk and hunted by Pharaoh for murdering an Egyptian.

Moses—very much aware of his status in Egypt and among the Israelites—resists God’s call.

First: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

Then:  “if I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what do I tell them?”  Ex. 3:11 and 13.

After his initial resistance, Moses finally goes to Egypt.  The Israelites are receptive to Moses—at first.  But when Pharaoh begins to come down hard on the Israelites, the Israelites blame Moses.

This makes me wonder—who has God sent to “deliver” me from evil?  How have I received God’s messengers?

  • When I get “nagging” calls from the Membership Director of the local Knights of Columbus Council, do I view him as an annoyance, or do I recognize him as sent by God to deliver me by offering me fellowship and service opportunities?  
  • When my wife points out a flaws in my behavior or actions to help me improve, do I hear “nag nag nag” or do I accept the message in the spirit she intends it?  
  • And when my son makes a valid point in response to my rebuke, do I respond in pride—“I’m your father!”—or do I accept his wise observations?

God regularly sends messengers to help deliver me from my human condition, my weaknesses, my fallen nature.  When I reject His messengers, I reject Him.

Likewise, when I reject His call to deliver messages to others, I again reject Him.  How many opportunities does He present me to evangelize?  Do I recognize these opportunities?  Do I reject them, or shy away (“please, Lord, send someone else!”).

When God sends me, will I see a burning bush?  Am I waiting for the burning bush instead of listening for a whispered call, like when He called Samuel?

Day 23-1

I pray that I recognize not only His call, but those He sends.Day 23-2

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