Saturday, August 1, 2015

2015/08/02 daily bread

Before Mass:

Give us this day our daily bread we pray it all the time but what does it mean?  Todays readings give us some insight into that.  To set the stage, it helps to know that todays Gospel come the day after last Sundays Gospel where Jesus fed the 5000.  Pay attention to the details today.  Pay attention to what the Israelites say in that first reading and think about what it really implies.  Notice the attitude of the crowd in the Gospel, and think about what THAT really implies. 


Ever read the Little House on the Prairie books?  GREAT reading honestly.  Its a simple story which tells a lot about how people lived in the late 1800s in the plains.  In one book called The Long Winter, their town in Minnesota had gotten cut off from civilization by a series of blizzards.  For MONTHS, the train couldnt get through, so there were no provisions no food.  All they had was wheat and not enough of that.  They would take their daily ration of wheat and make a course bread from it and for months THAT was all they ate.  As you can imagine, they were close to starvation.  I bring it up because of what the little girl said one time as they sat down to eat.  Something like Ill be glad if I never see wheat bread again as long as I live.  Her mom immediately snapped at her for being so ungrateful.  Mom knew that there was only enough wheat left for one more day and after that there was no telling how she would feed the family.   

Its easy, when were in the midst of suffering, to concentrate on what we DONT have, rather than the blessings.  The girl had lost sight of what a blessing it was to have that daily portion of bread. 

The Israelites had DEFINITELY lost sight of the blessings theyd received.  They somehow forgot all the wonders God had done to deliver them out of Egypt the plagues, the parting of the red sea, the pillar of fire  today, they were lamenting that they were hungry and apparently they were all drama-queens oh, if ONLY we had stayed in Egypt!  At least there we had enough food to eat!  REALLY  do you realize what youre saying?  YOU WOULD RATHER BE A SLAVE TO PHAROAOH THAN BE FREE.  Really?  Yeah- pharaoh might beat us and make us work all day for nothing and kill our kids and deprive us of our dignity but hey at least we had food!!!

God needed to teach them a lesson.  It wasnt their fault they acted like that:  The Israelites had been slaves for 400 years, so ALL THEY KNEW was to trust PHAROAOH to feed them.  God needed to get them to realize that HE is the real source of their food.  Listen to this one line again:

Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

Notice the part about the daily portion remind you of anything?  give us this day our daily bread.  Gods been trying to teach us to take only what we need for like 3000 years now.  See God sent just enough manna for everyone to have what they need.  The catch is anything you dont eat today will rot overnight.  So anything I collect more than what I need is wasted AND it means somebody else didnt get their share.

They needed to learn to depend on GOD for their daily bread. 

God provides what we need every day.  Some days it will seem like not enough but He gives us enough to sustain us through the desert.  Youve probably heard the cliché:  if God brings you to it, hell bring you through it.  If God leads you to the desert, hell provide what you need to get through that desert. Often we wont recognize the manna while were in the midst of lifes troubles - until afterward -looking back.  We thought he had abandoned us, but in hindsight, we see his Grace at work sustaining us each day of the journey.   

Jerry spent several years in the desert.  He started drinking when he was in High School it started out as a social thing, you know, to fit in with the crowd.  Through college, weekends were for one thing:  drinking parties.  After dropping out of college, Jerry found that he couldnt stop drinking.  Anytime he tried to put the bottle down, he would get depressed and shaky.  When he was drinking, he felt like he was fun to be around like everybody was his friend but when he put the bottle down, he found that he didnt have anything to say.  So he kept drinking  but it was killing him.  He lost his job three times, because too often he just wouldnt show up.  He couldnt hold a steady relationship with the women he dated.  He had alienated his brothers and sisters because he had lied to them repeatedly and even stole from them to be able to afford his next drinking binge.  He knew his life was in shambles he wanted so much more out of life so he TRIED to quit but every time he tried, the depression would set in again.  Then hed think at least while I was drinking, I was fun to be around.  The guys at the bar were all my buddies but now Ive got nobody.

He decided that it was better to be a slave to his addiction than to be free.  At least with his addiction, he didnt have to feel the pain that the alcohol had caused to him and those around him he could stay numb. 

Jerry was like the Israelites in the desert.  They would rather be slaves to Pharoah than take a chance that God could sustain them in the desert.  Better the devil you know that the devil you to speak. 

How does that fit your life and mine?  We all have situations, addictions, and habits that control us at times.  Only you know what it is in your own life something that you know you should get rid of but its easier to just keep it, rather than upsetting the boat. 

Think of the woman in an abusive relationship who stays with her husband for years and hides the bruises. Shes afraid to leave because well at least with him she has a roof over her head and food to eat.  Besides, if she were to try to get help, it might upset him and make him even more violent.  And what will people think of me!? 

Or the guy at work who is so negative such an instigator of trouble that he is poisoning the whole place.  Everyones attitude suffers because he brings everyone down.  However, he also goes out of his way to do extra work all the time so the folks in charge dont want to chase him away.  Better to live with the poisonous attitude than to risk getting less work done. 

All of these situations require a leap of faith a journey into the desert of the unknown.  Would we prefer to stay in our slavery to our addictions and habits or would we like to feel the freedom that God offers?  God doesnt guarantee that every leap of faith will be easy or even successful but in every journey, Hes teaching us to trust HIM to sustain us daily

but we might not recognize the manna until weve gotten through the desert.

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