Obey and RestFr. Barnabas Powell
“Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ So He said, ‘I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.'” Genesis 46:2-4
As we approach Lazarus Saturday, the Church gives us the story of just how the nation of Israel came to be in bondage in Egypt and why there would one day need to be a Passover to mark Israel’s liberation from Egypt. Here is where it all started. It started when God used Joseph to save his family from starvation during a horrible famine and drought in the area 400 years before Moses had to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and back to the Promised Land.
Notice what God promised Jacob, that old deceiver from his younger days. God promised Jacob three blessings if only Jacob wouldn’t fear to obey God. First, God promised Jacob that Israel would become a great nation. This is a renewal of the promise God made Abraham when He told Abraham that He would make his offspring as numerous as the sands of the sea. Second, God promised Jacob that He would stay with Jacob’s people and bring them back one day to the Land of Promise. Finally, God promised Jacob that his beloved, youngest son, Joseph, would close his eyes when it was time for Jacob to depart this life.
As we approach Holy Week, as we live our daily lives, we must come to grips with the dangers of the fantasy of the moment. All we see in the scriptures and the wisdom of the faith through the lives of the saints is the reality that what appears one way can end up decidedly something else. What was the salvation of Jacob’s family from famine eventually turned into slavery for the nation of Israel. What was tragedy for Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus became a reason for amazing joy. And what appeared to be certain defeat for Christ became the spark that changed the history of humanity.
Today, you will be tempted to take a snapshot of a moment in your life and run the risk of falling into one of the illusions of euphoria or despondency. But the wisdom of the faith calls us to be at peace and be at rest no matter what might be temporarily swirling around us. This is the wisdom of the story of Jacob and Joseph. It is the lesson that God, in His infinite love for you, knows where you are and sees the end from the beginning of your life. All you are called to do is obey and rest in the surety of His eternal care for you.
Today, God sees you and knows what you face and there will be enough grace for you to deal with all that comes to you today with peace of soul and with sure knowledge that His will governs all.
Finish Great Lent well.