The pathway for the Israelites was filled with anxiety, uncertainty and fear of the unknown. Much of their time was spent walking aimlessly in the wilderness, increasingly questioning why they were there and where they were going. We too may experience these same emotions as we wrestle through this seemingly laborious process; but one thing is clear, at the end of the day we have but two choices for our lives:
Freedom: “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes” (CCC 1733).
Bondage: Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts (CCC 1865).
For the Israelites, this choice wasn’t always so clear. For years they begged God to set them free from the bondage of Pharaoh in Egypt, only to respond with resentment and complaints even after a dramatic liberation filled with plagues, miracles and the parting of the Red Sea.
“And all the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why does the Lord bring us into this land...would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-3).
At first glance these people seem so foolish; but then again, could my story be so different? What do I have to show for the countless ways in which he has saved and protected me throughout my life? The Lord has given me more love, joy, happiness and fulfillment than I could ever have deserved. I’ve seen and experienced miracles; nonetheless, there are times (more than I’d like to admit) when I’ve grumbled, murmured and complained. I’ve pondered if it would be more fun and delightful to return to the source of my bondage versus living in the spirit and love of Christ. The Israelites, as well as each one of us, have moments when we would rather choose to be enslaved and well “fed” than to wander through the hardships of a potentially painful and uncomfortable wilderness. How do you respond when the Lord seeks to purify and prune you, even at times taking something away from you?
For our first active purgation and the remainder of this journey, we seek to control our tongues. We together make a resolution to cease to complain. Let it die. No complaining about work, food, anything your spouse or children do or don’t do, being tired, your financial situation, the other drivers on the road, how hot or cold it is, or anything for that matter. “For we all make many mistakes, and if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also” (James 3:2).
To counteract our verbal displeasure, let us strive to maintain a spirit of joy and charity in our words, actions and disposition. Smile! Laugh! Give compliments. Praise God for his abundant blessings. Ponder the gifts in your life and be thankful. Bring joy to others!
“From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!” (St. Teresa of Avila).
OUR PATHWAY THROUGH THE WILDERNESS:DAY 15
• Always maintain a spirit of joy and charity. • When at war, there is no complaining.