Det 8:2-3, 14B-16A
1 Cor 10:16-17
….who guided you through the vast and terrible desert
When I was in my early twenties, I did feel like I was in the vast and terrible desert. I made poor financial decisions, i.e. I charged more than my salary could afford. I remember being angry at the credit card companies for giving me more credit than ‘they’ should have. I was angry that I was ‘allowed’ to have so many credit cards that ‘allowed’ me to purchase what I couldn’t afford. I didn’t know if I would ever get out of this debt land of vast and terrible.
Not all vast and terrible deserts are hot.
Not all vast and terrible deserts are waterless.
Not all vast and terrible deserts are filled with sand.
In the six decades I’ve been making decisions, I have been in and out of the desert. The desert, the wilderness, seems to be a place where it is easy to blame others. Even blame God. It’s a cycle the world as a whole, as well as individuals, have continued to walk. In the desert part of this cycle, it is easy to look to God as the villain, WHY did He allow, or not allow… fill in the blank! Why doesn’t He fix this…NOW? If God was really a good God….
The times when I found myself in ‘the vast and terrible’ through no fault or no decision of my own, God always provided the daily manna I needed. Always. Other times, I have put myself in vast and terrible deserts. It may have initially seemed that God ‘put/left’ me there, but in hindsight, I clearly see that it was my choice, my decision (or lack thereof) that placed and kept me thirsting in the heat, and sometimes even starving. And yet, our good God still provided manna. He kept me alive; daily He gave me water and food in the vast and terrible. He may not have led me there, but He was with me there, even on my walk OFF His path.
Six months ago, if any of us had read an article describing the worldwide effects of this virus on our personal everyday life freedoms, on social, professional and emotional levels, I believe we would not have believed any of it; perhaps even laughed at the absurdity that a virus could ‘stop the world’ in the 21st century. We would have thought it an article of sheer fantasy. This is the 21st century, after all! We are a world of progress, of intelligence, of control. Control? Ha! How quickly we find ourselves in the vast and terrible desert. Or maybe we have been living in the vast and terrible desert and didn’t even know it, since we were sunbathing with our SPF50, making sure we control the results so as not to burn…..
That may be one of the biggest lessons this virus teaches us. We are not, and have never been, in control…of anything. Yet we continue to act in our prideful way as if we do have the answers, all the answers. As if we are in control and can handle anything/everything. As if we don’t really need GOD to be God because we are enough without Him. As if the vast and terrible can’t hurt us.
Even with this phase of openings and relaxing of guidelines throughout the world in our fight against COVID-19, many still feel, and are actually living, in a vast and terrible desert. And now, here in America, we have increased the temperature of the desert, because of past inaction to the sins of our country’s past (and still present) inhuman treatment of other human beings. America is suffering today with the destruction of things by our own people, resulting from decades, even centuries, of not dealing with systematic destruction of our own human lives (because we’ve been just fine with our SPF 50 laying out in the sun), we find ourselves fearful, in the wilderness. The wilderness we created.
So where IS God in this? Why this vast and terrible virus? Why this vast and terrible uprising? Why both at the same time? Why would God do this to good people? To people who quote His words? To people who go to church (albeit online)? To people who are just barely getting by? To people who continue to guide us through the vast and terrible…?
Almighty God. God is here. Right here. In flesh and blood. Giving us shelter. Giving us his own body to eat. Giving us his life so that we don’t lose ours. We are beginning to come alive again. How appropriate it is that today we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. We are coming out of the vast and terrible wilderness, we are being fed with the everlasting Bread of Life. We, as Catholics, are able to participate with our Lord and Saviour in a way that only faith in the mysterious and perfect ways of God the Almighty allows. He is the bread of life and we are sustained.
(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)
Prayer: No matter how far from food that sustains we stray, Lord; no matter how affected, or unaffected we are by the vast and terrible desert, we beg for your protection, Lord.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for feeding us, sheltering us, saving us from not only the vast and terrible deserts of life, but from our very own choices.