With the reading from the Book of Joshua for today’s liturgy, not only do we come to the end of this particular book, we also come to the end of Joshua’s life and the end of the Exodus event. Spanning five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, this event is the core of the Hebrew Scriptures. Everything else we read in the Hebrew Scriptures takes its meaning from the Exodus event.
The reading today consists of several parts; one of those parts is the creed that the people recite when Joshua asks if they wish to worship the Lord God of Israel or one of the gods of their neighbors. The children of Israel do not recite a litany of what they believe. Rather they recite a list of all that God has done for them, all the deeds and all the actions that God used to free them from slavery in Egypt. These events are the core of their faith. Everything else is dependent upon them.
The various creeds that have been used throughout the history of Christianity are similar. In addition to the statements of faith that we make such as “I believe in God,” or “I believe in Jesus Christ,” or “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” we also include the deeds of God and especially of Jesus who, like the God of Israel, led us out of slavery, a slavery to sin. These events, the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, are, like the Exodus is for the Israelites, the core of our faith. The Paschal Mystery in which Jesus died and rose from the dead is the event upon which everything else in our faith is dependent.
Perhaps it would be beneficial if in the context of prayer we would each recite the various things that God has done in our lives. In so doing, we would find that like the deeds and events that are the core of the Hebrew faith and the deeds and events that are the core of the Christian faith, the actions of God in our own lives are also derived from our faith in Jesus’ rising from the dead. God has blessed us with faith. God has called us and given us direction through our vocation. God has fed us and nourished us with God’s Word and with the Body and Blood of Jesus. God has given us the ability to perceive the actions of the Spirit in our lives.
Like the Israelites of old, what God has done for us is central to our faith. For this reason when we celebrate the Eucharist, our acclamation is, “We proclaim your death and profess your resurrection until you come again.”
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator