The story of God with His people is full of ups and downs. God loves His people, they love Him back. The next second, they forget Him and He lets them fall. They realize they need His love and then come back to Him, and we come back to God loving His people and His people loving Him back. In the Old Testament, this cycle happens often. Our first reading this weekend illustrates this cycle, but with a significant difference.
We have all heard of the narrative of Moses. In our first reading, we have Moses and the chosen people wandering in the desert for 40 years as they wait to enter the Promised Land. They have begun to grow very restless. The cycle of ups and downs has already happened many times in the desert and now, Moses has gone up the mountain alone. The people’s connection to God, the one who is keeping them on track, is now nowhere to be seen. It is as if the parents of the house have left and not hired a babysitter to watch the teenagers. Moses goes up the mountain and the restless people of Israel behave like teenagers. They throw a massive party where they make a golden cow and begin to worship it (OK, so maybe not exactly like teenagers today, but you get the analogy). They dance around it and go crazy over this idol.
Now, this is where the significant moment happens. Normally in the Old Testament, it is God who helps us. It is God who directs us. God, who gives us His grace. God who is the instigator. But not here. God is about to bring down His wrath upon His chosen people who have abandoned Him, but it is actually Moses who convinces God to relent in His punishment. Curious. How can Moses, a man, convince God to change His mind? The answer to this question is that Moses reminds God (irony) of His love for His people. Now, did God need this reminding - obviously not. But why is this in Scripture? It is there for the same reason we have Jesus’ conversations with the Father in the New Testament - it is in Scripture so that the reader/pray-er can enter more fully into a relationship with God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The first reading this weekend, this dialogue between Moses and God, allows us to see that when the cycle of ups and downs with God occurs and the cycle reaches a “down point”, the most important thing to remember is how much God loves His people. To remember the great things God has done for His people. To remember the blessings, and the graces, and the direction He provides along the road. We remember His love, which is everything. It’s all we need.
This weekend, we celebrate the 21st anniversary of 9/11. It was and continues to be a moment in our history of great significance. On this day, it is right to remember where you were on that day. It is right to recall everything about that day. And it is most right to remember those who lost their lives and to hold them in prayer. But if we stop there in our remembrance of that day, it can be just a day of darkness. We need to, we must, remember His love as well. We must remember the grace He gave to those who charged into buildings to save others (‘Those who wish to save their lives will lose it but those who lose their lives for my sake will save it’). We must remember the love He gave to those who needed tender hearts in order to comfort others. We must remember the love He gave so we have the strength to prevail. There is no evil on this earth, none that will ever be greater than the love God has for His people. As we remember 9/11 this weekend, we remember God’s great love for His people, and we are grateful.
May the Lord give you His Peace,