When the people of Israel were slaves in Egypt – they weren’t treated very well --- which is of course -- kind of the nature of being a slave. . .
And as a result of their hardships and mistreatment, they learned to distrust any authority figure: especially Pharaoh.
As Moses led them from their bonds of slavery – they slowly learned to trust him – and to trust God who sent the ten plagues as signs that God did want them to be free.
They continued to witness the power of God working through Moses as God made a way when there was no way –
allowing them to cross the Red Sea on dry land as the chariots and charioteers of Pharaoh were drowned in their pursuit. And their trust both in God and Moses continued to build.
BUT, and there always seems to be a but when it comes to God’s contentious people --- BUT when the Israelites ran out of food in the hostile environment of the desert – they slipped back into their old, familiar patterns --- losing their trust in Moses, questioning God’s concern for them, grumbling against them both --- and very much wanted to return to being slaves again in Egypt for at least – that was something familiar.
So God, through Moses, used signs in the desert to regain their trust. In the evening quail flew into the camp. And in the morning a dew lay on the ground, and when it evaporated there were fine flakes which the Israelites collected and used to make bread.
The meat and the manna – the bread from heaven – were additional signs that they could trust God as God continued to try to teach them how to live as God’s sons and daughters.
Jesus, too, used signs to teach the crowds which followed him how to behave as God’s sons and daughters.
Last week as we heard, Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish as a sign that they could trust in his power to free them from whatever enslaved them.
But, and there’s that word again -- but just as their ancestors could not look beyond the quails and manna to see a sign that they could trust God --- the crowds could not look beyond the loaves and fish to believe and trust that Jesus is the one sent by God to free them from sin and death.
All they wanted was a free lunch. Like their ancestors , they see God as just another Pharaoh who punishes them when they are bad – and as a super-santa: who rewards them when they are good.
We gather at this Mass today because we do believe that Jesus is the Bread come down from heaven: Jesus feeds us with bread transformed into his Body.
And as receivers of the Mystery of the Eucharist, we are invited to take yet another step in trusting God as we journey through life. But we cannot take that step, cannot make that pledge of trust – if we continue to live in any kind of slavery.
We can become slaves to almost anything or anyone these days: from alcohol to drugs, to food or gambling, or to whomever we consider the new Moses leading our country to the promised land.
We can become slaves to consumerism – believing that buying stuff will make us happy. Become slaves to popular opinion and push ourselves to become what others think we should become – rather than who God wants is to be.
Jesus invites us to take a closer look at our daily lives to admit the ways in which we might be slaves. He invites us to trust him in our journey through the desert of recovery to learn how to behave as God’s sons and daughters.
Anyone who has gone through a 12 step program knows how difficult this journey can be. The first step is to admit that we are not truly free – because we are enslaved to something.
With that honest admission, we take the first step of learning that we can let go of whatever has kept us from a deeper trust in God.
One way of growing in this deeper faith is to open our eyes to see the signs of God’s love already around us.
To perhaps notice the sun coming up and to know that God has gifted us with another day of life.
Or open our eyes to see a sign of God’s love as we are embraced by a loved one or enjoy the smile of a friend.
Kindness from someone else can be a sign of God’s love – as well as special celebrations such as births, Baptisms, birthdays, or weddings.
It might be a visiting priest who lets us know of the work his community does in missions throughout the world.
By the way, Fr. Cliff Hassler left a very complimentary note about how he enjoyed the wonderful music and the participation at Mass a few weeks ago – and about the beautiful Church building we have.
This coming from a man who spends every weekend in a different parish --- so he goes places where the music isn’t so great, and where people don’t participate --- so I do take it as a true compliment about our parish community – and so should you.
When we become attentive to the signs of God’s love --- we can approach the ultimate sign of God’s love in the Eucharist with a depth of faith that allows us to trust God – no matter what’s going on inside us or around us.
Moments in time...