SUNDAY, THIRD WEEK OF LENT
Ex 17: 3-7; Ps 95:1-2,6-9; Rom 5:1-2,5-8; Jn 4: 5-42
FEELING FORSAKEN IS NOT BEING FORSAKEN
Brian was adopted at the age of 2 by a family of loving parents. He knew that he was adopted and was grateful to his foster parents for taking care of him. He grew up in this God-loving family and never missed Holy Mass. However, tragedy struck his family. He met with an accident due to which his limbs were fractured and as he was recovering, his father lost his job. Financial constraints increased but he believed he could handle the situation once he finished his studies. His greatest support was his mother. But, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and had no more than six months to live. His father slipped into depression and thus, he had to take care of his father and his mother who was slowly succumbing to death. He had to discontinue his studies and now he had lost hope. He asked often, “Where did I go wrong? Was I not a faithful believer? Did I not attend mass daily? Why did God forsake me at his moment when I needed him the most?”
The sorrow of Brian is one among the many cries we witness among faithful believers. Sometimes, it leads us to question why God is so harsh to those who love him dearly. Look at those who don’t even acknowledge the existence of God. They prosper, thrive in business and health and even grow rich in abundance. Why not us who count on God for everything? Why does he abandon us?
A similar situation was faced by the Israelites who were redeemed from the oppressive clutches of the Egyptians. After having crossed the Red Sea, God led them through the wilderness, to the Promised Land. God took the responsibility to provide for these people in the wilderness where water and food are scarce. Yet, in the first reading of today, we see the Israelites revolting against Moses and God for not providing them water to drink. They tested (Massah) and quarrelled (Meribah) against God. Probably most of them had already abandoned faith in God. So also, when we are struck with unfortunate situations, we exclaim, “This God I believe cannot be trusted because when I needed him the most, he was not there” and then we abandon faith. But the question remains! Why do we, those with faith suffer these conditions? Is this because tougher times make tougher people since they are being tested by God? Unfortunate incidents are not moments God showcases to display his strength. But these are times in alignment with his plans to tell us that he is present with us.
The Israelites grumbled against the Lord. In turn, God used the staff of Moses to provide water from the rock. Incidentally, the staff was the same one that turned the river Nile red as blood and the same staff swallowed the serpents of the Egyptian magicians. The staff is a symbol of how God can use events of our life to bring us closer to him. The staff of Moses initially worked tremendous wonders in proving to the Egyptians that our God is the only powerful God who redeems. Similarly, several great and wonderful incidents have happened in our lives where God indeed made miracles happen. However, in these happy occurrences, we were so overwhelmed that we forgot to thank God! But, in the wilderness, the same rod of Moses was much needed when they were dying of thirst. Thus, God used such events to remind us that he is calling us to trust him by crying out to him and recognising his existence.
The reading also states that God stood in front of them on the rock when Moses worked the miracle. Though we may not feel the physical presence of God, in all moments including the most unfortunate ones, God doesn’t abandon his people. We may feel forsaken, but feeling forsaken is not being forsaken. God in his own ways and plans is devising something greater in our lives for which he is preparing us. Thus, in such moments he wants us to be stronger – a warrior who trusts in God’s providence and is able to face anything for his sake. One cannot simply forget what he or she undergoes in life. But, every cloud has a silver lining and that silver lining is a streak that will lead us to grow closer to God and abandon ourselves completely to him. Trust him and hope in him!
Response: O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.
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