Reflection on the Daily Readings for 8/13/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Joshua 3:7-10,11,13-17. Psalm 114:1-2,3-4,5-6. Matthew 18:21-19:1. Lectionary # 416:
Crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land is in some ways as miraculous as the Exodus Event. However, it is done without any enemy pursuing the Israelites. They dutifully listen to Joshua who has become a wise and fearless leader for them. God is always present in their good times and their bad times. The ark is a symbol of God’s presence, but so too is the person of Joshua who speaks to them in the name of God and reminds them that God is always there as their protector and redeemer. On this historic moment the priests are to lead the way for the people but the ark is to be the last to pass over into the holy promised land. We, as Christians, might be led to recall the ark of the covenant as it is mentioned for the last time in the Bible. Remarkably, it is in the Book of Revelation where the visionary, John of Patmos, sees it in the heavens. It is also a sign for those on earth that God is ever present to his people. Revelation describes the ark: “And the temple of God in heaven was opened, and there was seen the ark of his covenant in his temple, and there came flashes of lightening, and peals of thunder, and an earthquake and great hail.” (Rev.11:19). Returning to the passage of Joshua, it is worthwhile to reread this for it is a beautiful scene for the believers and for us who follow them in our belief in the one true God. Psalm 114 seems to follow our narrative both in recalling the Exodus and the crossing over of the Jordan: “The sea beheld and fled (Exodus) Jordan turned back (the miracle of the crossing over into the sacred land). Another great sermon discourse is finished in the Gospel of Matthew and it is a teaching on forgiveness given to us through Peter. Peter had asked how often he is to forgive; the Lord says seventy times seven! In other words, we are to forgive always. Jesus realizes that Peter needs more clarity on this so as a good teacher Jesus then gives him and us a parable on the nature of forgiveness. Jesus is always acting as a New Moses in Matthew’s Gospel meant for both Jewish Christians and the Gentiles who are in the same local churches. Amen.