“Why do you treat your servant so badly?”
In today's first reading Moses is having a bad day. That's to put it mildly. By the time we get to the end of the reading, he is pleading with God to strike him dead. Why is he so upset?
The Israelites are complaining again. They don't like eating manna all the time. They opine about the wonderful fare they had in Egypt when they were slaves. Only it appears they have forgotten the part about the slavery. Now, any complaint against God is a complaint against Moses. They cannot see God, but they can see Moses. If this were an isolated occurrence, I am sure Moses could have dealt with it. But it's not. The Israelites spend their time in little else but complaining. Moses has had all he can take.
To me, this is the perfect reading for a Monday. Many of us are fed up with a number of things in our lives. Monday just brings out the worst. We return to work, we begin another week, etc. There are issues on the job, at home, and various other places. The combined pressure can get to us at times and cause us, like Moses, to ask God, "Why are you treating me so badly?" In these times, we may feel that we would rather God just strike us dead. Obviously, we need to step back and gain a little bit of perspective.
The fact is that this life is hard and there are numerous trials that we must face. The good news is that God is faithful to work through all of these circumstances to perfect us and prepare us for heaven. When we answered our Lord's invitation to discipleship, we were called to carry a cross. This means suffering, and more, it means patiently enduring such suffering. This suffering comes in a variety of ways. It may be dealing with our co-workers, neighbors, or family members. It may be physical illness. It may be tragedy. It may be persecution for righteousness' sake. Whatever it may be, God is well aware of it and He is allowing it in our lives, as I said, for our perfection. It may not be what we want, but it's what we need.
Though these trials may seem like they will last forever, they are actually very temporary, especially when seen against the backdrop of eternity. When the pressure begins to build and you feel yourself beginning to think like Moses, it's time to find a quiet place to get away. Our Lord illustrates this in today's Gospel.
He has just been brought the news that Herod has executed John the Baptist. He is grieving. He goes away by Himself. But the crowds see Him and follow. Rather than tell them He's taking some time off, He is moved with compassion and heals their sick. Then He feeds them all. How does He find such resource to continue to minister to others when He is hurting Himself? Well, He's God of course. But more than that, I think He was able to have enough time to commune with God. Perhaps a better answer is that He was so in the habit of continual communion with the Father that when the crisis came He had more than enough resource to deal with it.
Today, regardless of what we are facing, or will be facing, let us remember the difference between Moses' reaction to crisis and our Lord's. Though we will be tempted to side with Moses, let us, rather, find ourselves on the side of our Lord. Let us choose to think more of the others around us in need than our own need. Let us draw near to God continually so that we will have all the resource necessary to face the trials of today, and every day.