The Crossing of the Red Sea by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)

God's Word on Sunday: Embracing change is a vital part of living

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  • March 30, 2019

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 31, 2019 (Year C) Joshua 5:9, 10-12; Psalm 34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32


We are given many graces and gifts to help us on our life journey. These take many forms — jobs, careers, interests, relationships, spiritual practices and forms of prayer. 

As we move to a new phase in our lives, we are often called to leave behind cherished things that have sustained and helped us. What might have been very helpful perhaps no longer is — in fact, it could be holding us back. We change and our needs change, and the spirit makes appropriate modifications in our lives. 

These times of transition can be disconcerting and painful, and we may cling to things of the past and frantically try to breathe new life into them. But nothing in this life lasts forever. To refuse to move forward is to spiritually and psychologically stagnate and die. When we release our gifts of the past with gratitude, we will be blessed with new gifts for the next stage of our journey. 

The Israelites had finally completed their 40-year saga in the wilderness. It was a time of testing and they often failed miserably — so miserably, in fact, that God decided that they had to remain there until the entire generation from Egypt had died off. 

They had to learn to rely on God for their very lives and a good part of that was the gift of manna each day to sustain them. They also learned to be grateful for that gift and not to indulge in murmuring, whining and complaining. The generation born and raised in the wilderness were “lean and mean” and totally focused on obedience to God. 

Having entered the promised land, they were no longer in need of the manna and so it ceased. God declared that the “shame of Egypt” — their slavery and the spiritual degradation that it had caused — had been removed. They now provided for themselves from the produce of the land. 

In the next stage of their journey they were to be warriors, and God would provide them with courage, zeal and victory on the battlefield. 

Perhaps there were some who remembered the manna and the wilderness with nostalgia, but once we have begun our journey with God, we cannot go back without grievous loss.

What changes and transitions have we already experienced? Are there new ones tapping us on the shoulder and making us uneasy? To change and evolve is to live, especially when God is the director.

Paul alluded to this when he revealed that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation — the old has passed away. 

The old order was not evil but had run its course and accomplished its mission. God had other plans for humanity and creation was starting anew. The new order reconciled all of the discordant and opposing parts of humanity and creation, creating a world no longer at war with itself or with others. 

Paul battled continually with those who resisted this forward movement, wanting to cling to the past. He always insisted that we cannot have it both ways. 

We have to choose newness in Christ or the old order, but that order will not be very helpful to us now. Our bleeding and polarized world is desperately in need of reconciliation, but first we must let go of the tried-and-no-longer-so-true.

The beloved story of the Prodigal Son is an illustration of the reconciliation of which Paul spoke. Jesus told this parable in response to some of the righteous and pious who were outraged that He welcomed sinners and those deemed to be beyond hope. 

The father in the story — symbolizing God — was not at all rejecting or vengeful. He demanded no explanations, apologies or acts of self-degradation from his wayward son. 

Overcome with relief and joy, he could only celebrate his son’s safe return. The one who was lost was now found, the one who was dead was now alive. Wholeness and reconciliation had been achieved. 

The elder son, filled with resentment and disdain for his brother and his father’s welcome, reflects the attitude of so many people. This attitude divides and labels, judges and condemns, selects and excludes — and this opposes the mercy and compassion of God. 

Becoming reconcilers and ambassadors of Christ is the greatest gift we can give the world.


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Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

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