August 5, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

Did it ever strike you that freedom can be frightening? In our first reading from Exodus, the Israelites moaned and groaned against Moses and Aaron who were leading them out of oppression. Leaving Egypt meant freedom. But, once free, they would now have to be responsible for themselves. Even if this freedom was God’s gift to them, they didn’t want it. They wanted to go back to what they had in the past.
Paul warns the Ephesians about holding on to the past, for they have entered into new lives in Christ Jesus. In the gospel of John, we hear how Jesus had just fed the crowd of followers by multiplying the loaves and the fish. Having, however, a good idea of what the people following him really wanted, Jesus reproaches them, telling them to look not for food that perishes but rather for food that endures unto eternal life.
Back in the desert the Israelites were frightened by their newfound freedom and yearned for the security they had back in Egypt. It may have been a very mediocre existence, but it was familiar and consistent, and comforting to them. Too often we are tempted beyond the freedom we have. Too often we fear to enter that freedom, to leave our comfort zones in order to go where God might be calling us. But we must remember what Jesus said to his disciples “Do not be afraid.” He says the same to us today.
When we do the works of God in our world to-day, when we share Jesus’ tenderness and mercy, we need to remember that we are not alone. Jesus is always with us, walking by our side, even if we cannot feel or see him. When you face difficulties of any kind, remember, Jesus is with you. Do the works for others that Jesus points out to you or permits you to see. This might be within your family, at work, in your neighborhood or parish community, or even around the world. Being there for others is what Jesus asks of us. Let us together be those works of God.

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