Today’s first reading tells the story of the children of Israel complaining to their long-suffering leader, Moses about the conditions on their journey out of Egypt. Stuck in the desert, they are exhausted, hungry, thirsty, irritable, and tired of the manna which once sustained them.
Even so, the Lord shows mercy for them in a way that foreshadows the coming of Christ.
If the children of Israel sound like just that – children – then the following excerpt from one of Saint Junipero Serra’s sermons will shed light on the nature of God’s mercy for us and why we should trust in it:
The Lord is benign and gentle when He generously pardons any offenses we have committed against Him. His infinite mercy consists in this above all else.
The Prophet King demonstrates this in Psalm 102:13 in these words: As a father has compassion for his children, the Lord has compassion for those who fear Him. For He knows how we were made. Just as a tender father is moved to pity because of the misfortunes of his children, so our God and Lord, in His infinite mercy, sympathizes without us because He realizes how fragile the clay is from which we have been formed. Oh, the name of father! How fitting for God, and how little deserved for men!
The compassion of the Lord also shines forth in the last words of our text: For He knows how we were made. The text does not mention the good deeds the Lord has done for us. It does mention the free will He has given us. It does not mention the grace with which He helps us, and which would enable us never to offend Him. The text does not refer to the many gifts with which He has favored us and which ought to lead us to love Him always and serve Him promptly. All of these matters might induce the Lord to punish us for our ingratitude.
But what they evoke instead is the fragile nature of the clay from which we were formed. This leads the Lord to have compassion and mercy on us. Here indeed we see how much mercy is a part of the Lord.
--From Junipero Serra: California, Indians and the Transformation of a Missionary by Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2015
Can you recall a time when you were more apt to complain about things going wrong than things that were going right?
In today’s first reading, the children of Israel let their corporal discomforts lead them to momentarily forget that they had been delivered from slavery in Egypt. How can this reading help remind you to always keep your discomforts in perspective before blaming God or others?