- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

April 9, 2019

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

5th Tuesday Week of Lent
Numbers 21:4-9; John 8:21-30

“The people complained against God and Moses” (Num. 21:5). It is easy to relate to the recently liberated slaves as they tried to adjust to their new status. Like them, we, too, grumble and complain. Like them, we ultimately attribute the blame for our lack of happiness on God. Grumbling erodes the bond of unity within a community and poisons the heart. Saint Benedict saw the danger and firmly legislates against it: “First and foremost, there must be no word or sign of the evil of grumbling, no manifestation of it for any reason at all. If, however, anyone is caught grumbling, let him undergo more severe discipline” (R.B. 34:6-7). It is reasonable to say that we have been complaining against God from the beginning of our existence, just like our desert-crossing ancestors of faith. When we mummer, or grumble, or complain we place our will over God’s. That’s when we get bitten! Whenever, like our ancestors in the wilderness, we come to our senses, we can find the cure. Having been brought to our knees, we are invited to lift our eyes to the Savior, who was lifted up on the Cross.

Every night, we chant the Salve. A line from that beautiful devotion identifies us with the freed slaves of Egypt: “To thee (Mary) do we send up our sighs, Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.” It was for our sake that the Word became Flesh. Out of love for us, was lifted high on the cross so that we who have murmured against God might be forgiven. The Israelites raised up their eyes to the heights and were healed, if we look to Christ lifted up on the cross we shall be given eternal life. To focus on God’s loving care and infinite mercy towards us calls forth a response of humble thanks on our part. Let’s pray together that we remember in humble gratitude the ups and downs of human living.

Lord, our God, help us to open ourselves to the glory and joy of your constant presence to us.  Keep us faithful in experiencing your magnificent gifts of grace that you shower on us.  Be with us even as we whine about how difficult life is and call us to deep gratitude for your constancy and faithfulness to us.