Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Numbers 11:1-35

Passion – But Not Our Lord’s

Passion.  Desire.  Craving.  We all know it.  We’ve all felt it.  Indeed, the very consumer-driven culture in which we live plays on it.  It is our desire to have, and have more of it, that advertisers must exploit.  “You deserve it.”  “You’re entitled to it.”  Or just plain, “You know you want it.”  These are the messages we constantly receive, and these are the urges to which we invariably succumb.

The children of Israel were growing tired of manna.  Manna-this, manna-that, ba-manna bread – it was undoubtedly enough to dull the palate.  They began to remember (fantasize, is more like it) how wonderful things were in Egypt: cucumbers, melons, leaks, onions, and garlic.  Like most, they had very selective memories.  They conveniently forgot slavery, torture, and infanticide.  It’s amazing how when we feel the slightest irritation in the present we can make a forest out of a desert in the past.  All we know is that we’re uncomfortable, or that there is something we want that we can’t have.  And we resent it.

The sin is envy.  You don’t have to see someone else have what you want, you merely have to want what you don’t have.  That’s what the Israelites were doing.  One might say they were envying their past, a romanticized past to say the least, but envying it nonetheless.  And envy is rooted in a thankless heart that knows no gratitude, which is ungrateful for the things God has provided for it.  Manna was not enough.  Indeed, it had become too much.  They wanted meat.  So God gave them meat to eat.  But once again, with the answer came the judgment.  (Did someone say, “Be careful what you wish for?”)

Ours is such a world, and we are such a people.  We have become so impulsive that we are quite unaware how demanding we are.  If we want it, we get it, simply because we can have it.  And now that we’ve had it so many times, we find ourselves unable to not keep getting it.  The world told us that this was freedom, that this was progress.  But now we find that our impulses now dominate us, and we are less free than we ever were, slaves to our appetites, servants to our desires, minions to our passions.  The world has made shells of what Christ would make of us.

The Church needs freemen and freewomen of God.  Christ died to set us free.  And through him, we can be free indeed (John 8:31-36; Romans 6-8).

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