Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 102 O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you; Jn 8:21-30
As we move along our journey in Lent, heading toward its culmination with the Easter Triduum, we pause at the desert wanderings of the people of Israel.
We are asked to remember that experience of the people being led out of slavery into the desert toward the promise land. This image is what lent is about, out of slavery of sin toward the promise land, with our battle cry, "on earth as it is in heaven."
Today our stop in the desert finds the Israelites complaining. The people's patience were worn out by the journey and they began to grumble against God and against Moses.
They were complaining about God's gift, gift of food and water, "we are disgusted with this wretched food!"
They had grown miserable beneath the weight of the Belly-ache.
How soon they forgot what God' s mighty hand had done. They had stopped being grateful and thus they had lost sight of grace. The strength for their journey was gratitude. Here they were to encounter true strength, and yet they stopped giving thanks and thus became careless with the gifts God gave.
They had lost focus. They were all nearsighted, they could not see past their own noses. All they saw was what was wrong and they failed to recognize what was right and good. They were free, they were no longer slaves. They were being cared for by God. They had witnessed great things and yet they were lost in themselves.
There is an old proverb that comes to mind in light of the Israelite's complaints, "Instead of complaining about the rosebush having thorns, be thankful the thorn bush has roses."
The essence of gratitude is to always keep one's eyes peeled for the gift to behold in all circumstances that abound.
As we move toward the Easter Triduum, the heart of our Christian identity, we discover one very essential truth. In those three days, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Saturday, God gives abundantly forever.
In the passion of Jesus, God's gift remains steadfast in all of life's circumstances: he gives the priesthood, the Eucharist, love that is stronger than death.
No matter what lies ahead in our own desert wanderings, gratitude is always at our finger tips for we have received grace upon grace. As the prophet Zechariah states so well, "they shall look upon him whom they have pierced," and remember the gift that was given and the price it was paid.