Because of the feast day that we celebrated on Saturday, we missed the reading from the Book of Exodus which told us of the triumphal march of the Israelites after they had been released by Pharaoh. When we pick up the story today, we hear of Pharaoh’s pursuit of the escaping Israelites. He issues orders to his entire army, all of his chariots and charioteers to chase down Moses and the slaves who had made it as far as the Red Sea.
As soon as the people saw that they were being pursued, they lost hope and started to complain. This actually tells us that they did not really believe that it had been God’s power that set them free. They immediately turn their backs on God and his chosen messenger. Their desire for freedom had not been a matter of trust in, faith in, or loyalty to God.
Faith must be tested to prove that it is genuine. It takes nothing to believe when things are going well. It is easy to place our trust in God when we lack for nothing. However, when the hard times come or when we begin to experience the natural decline that comes as we age or when our hopes for the future begin to dim, that is when we learn the lesson of true faith. Testing takes many shapes and forms in the course of a human life. Faith in God means taking the risk involved in placing all our hope and trust in God’s providential care. When we are able to believe in spite of hardships, then we can say that we are faithful.
This is a lesson that we learn so clearly from the cross on Mt. Calvary. Jesus was tested by his passion and death. He was, after all, fully human. Yet he placed his faith in the One who had sent him. That faith saw him through to the resurrection.
Each time we commemorate the passion and death of Jesus on this altar, we also profess our faith in the resurrection. Each “Amen” we utter as we receive his Body and Blood is another act of faith, a faith that has been and will continue to be tested until we stand in God’s presence.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator