Sunday, July 31, 2005



AUGUST 1, 2005

NUMBERS 11:4B-15
The children of Israel lamented, "Would that we had meat for food! We
remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt, and the
cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now
we are famished; we see nothing before us but this manna." Manna was
like coriander seed and had the color of resin. When they had gone
about and gathered it up, the people would grind it between millstones
or pound it in a mortar, then cook it in a pot and make it into loaves,
which tasted like cakes made with oil. At night, when the dew fell upon
the camp, the manna also fell. When Moses heard the people, family
after family, crying at the entrance of their tents, so that the LORD
became very angry, he was grieved. "Why do you treat your servant so
badly?" Moses asked the LORD. "Why are you so displeased with me that
you burden me with this entire people? Was it I who conceived this
entire people? Or was it I who gave them birth, that you tell me to
carry them at my bosom, like a foster father carrying an infant, to the
land you have promised under oath to their fathers? Where can I get
meat to give to this entire people? For they are crying to me, `Give us
meat for our food.' I cannot carry this entire people by myself, for
they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you will deal with me,
then please do me the favor of killing me at once, so that I need no
longer face this distress."

MATTHEW 14:13-21
When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by
himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their
towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved
with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the
disciples approached him and said, "This is a deserted place and it is
already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves." (Jesus) said to them, "There is no need
for them to go away; give them some food yourselves." But they said to
him, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have here." Then he said,
"Bring them here to me," and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the
grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to
heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the
disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were
satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over --twelve wicker
baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting
women and children.

Poor Moses! By himself he had to carry on his shoulders the heavy
burden of the Israelite people. They've been causing him a great deal
of grief. He blames God for his unhappy situation. "Why are you so
displeased with me? . . . Why do you treat your servant so badly? .
. . I didn't give birth to this multitude. Why do you make them my
responsibility?" He's so discouraged that he asks Yahweh to take his
life. "If this is the way you are going to deal with me, please do me
the favor to killing me so that I'll no longer have to face this

In the gospel, Peter faces a somewhat similar situation. He and the
other disciples are in the little boat, terrified by the force of the
storm and the power of the waves breaking over it. They see Jesus
walking toward them on the water. Impulsive Peter asks Jesus, "Tell
me to come to you on the water." Jesus says, "Come." Peter steps over
the gunwale, steps on the water and walks toward Jesus. He feels the
same forceful winds and the same powerful waves that are assaulting the
boat. His faith grows weak and he sinks.

Both Moses and Peter suffered a crisis of faith, Moses in the midst of
his discouragement and despair, Peter because of his fear. But both of
them learned something. They saw first hand the power of God and his
concern for them. God had Moses choose 70 elders and on them he put
part of the spirit he had given to Moses so that they would be able to
help Moses carry the burden of the people. Peter, of course, in his
fear called out to Jesus who stretched out his hand to him and saved
him. Both emerged from the crisis, stronger in faith and more
confident than ever in proclaiming God's love and mercy for his people.
If men such as these, so close to the heart of Yahweh and of Jesus,
could falter in their faith, how can any of us hope not to?

We all encounter challenges to our faith, don't we? How often, facing
one problem or another, we doubt God's presence in our lives? But the
Lord has never really abandoned us. He may seem to be distant, but he
has always been there giving us the strength to rise above our doubts
and fears. Maybe we should pray to both Moses and Peter, asking them
to intercede with the Lord for us, that we might always rise above
doubts and fears and like them, as a result of these experiences, grow
stronger in our faith, and lead others to increase their faith, to
trust their Lord.

"Lord, help me to trust you always and to never doubt your presence and
your power to help me. In my moments of doubt and weakness, may I cling
to you as Peter did. Strengthen my faith that I may walk straight in
the path you set before me, neither veering to the left nor to the

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