Friday, August 5, 2011

Don't Forget To Remember

One of the antidotes to the poisons of depression, discouragement, and despair is remembering.

During the exodus and the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness Moses encouraged the people to recall all that Yahweh had done for them.

The Israelites and the foreign elements among them grew despondent. They complained about the tasteless food, about the scarcity of water, about their seemingly endless, aimless sojourn toward the promised land.

In response, according to the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the people of all the good things Yahweh had done for them: "Did anything so great ever happen before?" (4:32).

God spoke to them and they heard the divine voice! God freed them from slavery in Egypt by means of extraordinary signs and wonders! God manifest his presence in the form of fire! And further, God gave them the law so that they and their children may prosper!

Given the many years and difficult climate these refugees had to face, it is not surprising that they should on occasion lose heart and murmur against Moses' leadership.

And such a reaction (complaining, murmuring, and discouragement) is not foreign to us.

Most of us, at one time or another, become restless and even resentful when things do not go our way, when we feel God has abandoned us, when the effort seems beyond our endurance.

Such feelings and the behaviors that accompany them can poison our relationship with God, pervert our rapport with others, and pollute how we rate ourselves.

The Bible's response to this kind of discontent is to recall, reflect, remember.

We are advised to call to mind all the gifts we have enjoyed. God has given us life, has revealed his plan to us, has invited us to cooperate in the salvation process.

Countless souls on earth today have never heard of Jesus, have no notion that the Creator is a loving God, have no sense of being called to share in God's good work.

The blessings of our religion are enormous.

Further, most of us have more than our fair share of earthly goods as well. We have food, water, shelter, medical care, family, friends, etc., etc.

Upon reflection we can think of occasions when we were helpless, and God stepped in to help us. When we felt life was meaningless, and God restored the joy of our youth. When we were guilty and ashamed, and God showed us mercy, forgiveness, and compassion.

It is obvious that remembering is a good thing, that it is strongly recommended by God, when we recall what Jesus said and did on the night before he died. He gave us the memorial of his sacrifice, his body and blood to sustain us.

Mass is a time for praising God, for offering sacrifice, for sharing in the heavenly food, for hearing God's message --it is a time for remembering.

If Moses were preaching today, he would put it bluntly, "Don't forget to remember."

I remember the deeds of the Lord,
Yes, I remember your wonders of old.
And I meditate on your works,
Your exploits I ponder.

O God, your way is holy.
What great god is there like our God?
You are the God who works wonders.
Among the people you have made known your power.

With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
the sons of Jacob and Joseph.
You led your people like a flock...
(Ps 77).

Mass is a time for remembering --and our personal recollection of the deeds of the Lord is powerful medicine for any tired soul!

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