Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Joshua 24:1-13; Matthew 19:3-12)
Once crossing the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, I came to the toll booth and was waved on. When I stopped to inquire why I didn’t have to pay, the toll collector said that the woman in the car ahead of me paid my toll. I do not know the reason for the woman’s generosity. She did not know me. Indeed, she could hardly have even seen me. I presume that she felt grateful about something in her life and just wanted to help another person.
As the woman was probably the recipient of a favor that she had received, Joshua reminds the Israelites in today’s first reading that their fortune is not their own doing. Indeed, God has been their benefactor at every stage of their illustrious saga. The point is that the people should be grateful to God by heeding His commands which are in good part directed to social solidarity.
We must beware that selfishness and greed does not allow us to forget God and neighbor. All of us, as Joshua says, are beneficiaries of land that we did not till and cities that we did not build. Richly endowed by our forebears, we are not so much to pay them back as to pay others forward. That is, we are to give thanks by helping others. We are to contribute to efforts which shape a society where everyone can live, grow, and prosper.