A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Helplessness and anxiety

In today’s first reading (Dt. 31:1-8), Moses is preparing Israel for his imminent death.

This is more than a moment in ancient history or even salvation history. It is more than just a story recounted in venerable prose.

It is also a very basic, very human moment: a moment of helplessness and anxiety.

Moses, of course, has been the mighty hero of Israel: the man who had stood up to Pharaoh, the man who had saved Israel from destruction time and time again, the man who had taught them nearly everything they knew about God.

Now, this mighty hero is very, very old. His mobility is greatly impaired. Moreover, he knows that he will not be able to do what he had waited his entire life to do: he is going to die before reaching the goal of his life – the Promised Land.

Some of us have an idea of what that is like: to be physically unable to do things we once took for granted, to realize that we will die without fulfilling the dreams of our youth, to stare closely into the dark portal of death.

Surely it is a moment of helplessness and anxiety.

But not for Moses.

Instead, at this moment, the feelings of helplessness and anxiety are washing over the people of Israel and those who will have to lead them when Moses is gone.

Moses had been their leader, their protector, and their mentor – the only one they had ever known. Whenever they had ever been afraid or in need, they had always gone to Moses and Moses always took care of them.

Now Moses is going to die.

Surely it is a moment of helplessness and anxiety.

But Moses speaks powerful words of comfort to them:

Be strong and of a good courage,
fear not, nor be afraid…
for the LORD thy God,
he it is that doth go with thee;
he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Moses reminds them that God is the One who is with them, that God is the One upon whom they can rely, and that God can bring them through any difficulty.

As for us, all those upon whom we have relied may die and all those who comfort us may depart, but God is always there: loving and caring for his faithful people.

Such are the words of comfort Moses gives to Israel. Such is the comfort that Moses himself feels in his heart.

He may not be able to move around as he once did, but he always feels the Lord at his side.

The fearful unknown of death lies before him, like a great cave of impenetrable darkness, but Moses has left all doubts behind and trusts totally in the continued goodness of the Lord – no matter what.

Unconquerable comfort fills Moses’ being and that is the comfort he shares with the Israelites... and with us.

Indeed, for us, this comfort is even greater and more undeniable, for we are blessed with the infinite graces of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his wonderful Holy Spirit.

Life may try to afflict us with times of helplessness and anxiety, but no matter what happens and no matter whom we may lose in our lives, our protection is unassailable, our comfort unstoppable, and our joy irrepressible because God is always with his faithful children.