Friday, August 14, 2015

Memorial of Saint Maximillian Kobe, martyr

(Joshua 24:1-13; Matthew 19:3-12)

Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sì warns that the current overuse of resources is hurting the poor today and will jeopardize future ages.  The pope would say along with Joshua in today’s first reading that the present generation has been given a land that that had not tilled and vineyards that they did not plant.

Joshua’s purpose is to remind the Israelites how good God has been to them.  It was not they who won victory over the Egyptians or conquered the peoples of the land promised to Jacob.  Joshua will ask his countrymen to be faithful to their Lord by obeying his commands.

We too are inheritors of a great legacy.  Americans have enjoyed virtual freedom from invasion and a prosperous economy.  We should not take these gifts for granted but give thanks to God daily.  Better still, we should work to preserve these resources and to share them with less developed countries.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Joshua 3:7-10a.11.13-17; Matthew 18:21-19.1)

Psalm 44 declares that the Israelites were not saved from Pharaoh’s army by their own hand.  Rather, the psalm continues, it was the Lord who brought them victory.  The first reading today demonstrates the same point.  God’s remaining with the people of Israel gives them crucial advantage over the Canaanites.

Moses is, in a sense, the major figure of the Book of Exodus and, arguably, of the Old Testament.  He led the people out of Egypt, formed them according to the dictates of God’s law, and brought them to the Promised Land.  With Moses gone as the Israelites reach their destiny, some might wonder how the people will be able to move forward.  The passage asserts that God is ready to assist Joshua as he had Moses.  Thus, the real hero of the story of salvation is no man but God.

We should never forget the lesson.  God provides us crucial advantage whether we win or lose in any particular venture.  He can lift victory from defeat and make defeat not difficult to bear.  It is important, indeed critical, that we trust in Him.