Resist Fear, Trust God

August 9, 2017 – Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr

Mark J. Poletunow, Malvern President (mpoletunow@malvernretreat.com)

Click for: Readings for the day (From the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops)

A reading from the Book of Numbers (13:1-2, 25-14:1, 26a-29a, 34-35)

The LORD said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,]
“Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan,
which I am giving the children of Israel.

You shall send one man from each ancestral tribe,
all of them princes.”

After reconnoitering the land for forty days they returned,
met Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the children of Israel
in the desert of Paran at Kadesh,
made a report to them all,
and showed the fruit of the country
to the whole congregation.
They told Moses: “We went into the land to which you sent us.
It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit.

However, the people who are living in the land are fierce,
and the towns are fortified and very strong.

Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there.
Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb;
Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the highlands,
and Canaanites along the seacoast and the banks of the Jordan.”

Caleb, however, to quiet the people toward Moses, said,
“We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly do so.”
But the men who had gone up with him said,
“We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us.”
So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel
about the land they had scouted, saying,
“The land that we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants.
And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants

(the Anakim were a race of giants);
we felt like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them.”

At this, the whole community broke out with loud cries,
and even in the night the people wailed.

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron:
“How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me?

I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me.
Tell them: By my life, says the LORD,
I will do to you just what I have heard you say.
Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall.
Forty days you spent in scouting the land;
forty years shall you suffer for your crimes:
one year for each day.
Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me.

I, the LORD, have sworn to do this
to all this wicked assembly that conspired against me:
here in the desert they shall die to the last man.”

 

Reflect: So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel… The Lord has demonstrated to the children of Israel that he is with them, will never let them down and that he has something very special prepared for them. Some of the scouts sent ahead to investigate the land of promise in Canaan, however, are frightened by what they see. Instead of giving thanks to God for the lavish blessings from that land, they are frightened by the strength of the inhabitants there. Instead of trusting that God will successfully lead them to a rich land where he has promised that they will thrive, they begin to “spread discouraging reports” in order to dissuade God’s people from advancing. They invent outrageous stories of fatal conditions. For their lack of faith and their resistance to the direction of God, the people wander and suffer in the desert for forty more years. Like our ancestors in faith, we can be overwhelmed by fear and stop listening to the direction of God in our lives. He may be preparing a rich blessing for us, yet we are consumed by the challenges that may await us on the journey to arrive at a new place. We rely on our own strength rather than the grace that our faithful God is offering us. Perhaps today we can reflect on our need to stay the course by obeying the voice of God and trusting that he will never let us down. He will guide us on the right path.

Questions: How might I be letting fear dissuade me from trusting God? How do I need to resist the temptation of telling myself and others discouraging thoughts fueled by the fear of what may await me (and others) in the journey? In what ways might God be asking me to stay the course and trust that he will lead me to where I need to be?

Pray: Loving God, you will never lead me astray. Help me to listen close for your voice and to find strength knowing that you will guide me in the right path even if there are challenging conditions along the way.  I pray this in the powerful and perfect name of Jesus. Amen.

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: Pray for us!

Edith Stein was born in 1891 in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocaw, Poland) to Jewish parents. She became an atheist at the age of fourteen. Inspired by the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila, she converted to Catholicism in 1922 during her philosophic studies. She taught in various schools from 1923 to 1933 until she was forced to resign due to anti-Semitic legislation. In 1933, she entered the Discalced Carmelite convent in Cologne taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. At the end of 1939, she moved to the convent at Echt, Holland on account of the Nazi persecution of Jews, but in 1942, during the German occupation of Holland, she was arrested by the Gestapo, transported to Poland and killed on August 9 at the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Bridget of Sweden, she was declared co-patroness of Europe by Pope John Paul II.

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