Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.)
Exodus 15: 22-23
When the burning bush told Moses to start marching towards the promised land why didn’t it bother to mention the 40 years it was going to take to get there? Do you think Israel might have appreciated it if they had been informed just how long they would be fasting before they signed up for the group pilgrimage.
Exodus is a great parable for the struggle for Social Justice. Step 1 – God opens his hear to the poorest and most marginalized. Step 2 – God raises among them a prophet. Scene 70*70 they arrive at the promised land a new more just society for all. Step 3 – many get pretty repetitive though setback, struggle, strife, repeat.
Can you guess why this Exodus comes to mind when I think about the events at the Texas Capitol about a week ago? The unborn are the most oppressed and marginalized people in our society. God has raised among us many prophets to lead us forward. Together we have stood up, started to make a great stride towards protecting the safety of mothers and the unborn [SB5] and setback! , struggle, strife, repeat.
I’m not going to ruminate too long on our setback, fellow contributor Rita Suva already did a good job of telling that story. But this brings us right back to the struggle and the strife Abortion brings to this country. In fact as Catholics our struggle will not be over until the sin of Abortion is eliminated from our society. Make no mistake until that day we are still wandering in the desert of injustice.
This is going to take a while. If we are going to get through this, we need to take an Exodus mentality. What can Exodus teach Catholics about our struggle to overcome injustice?
If your not there yet, keep marching! Israel’s journey was much longer than anyone but God could have known in the beginning. They were already feeling tired and wondering and grumbling “are we there yet” after the first three days. They would be grumbling for another 40 years. In 40 years, how many times can you tell your self, “almost there guys. I can feel it. Its right over that hill!”
Many of us believed SB5 would be passed in the first special session. It wasn’t. When it does get passed it will surely be challenged in court. Even if it gets passed in court it will only protect some mothers and some of the unborn. Our journey goes on to the next special session, and continues to the court find beyond that. And to new laws beyond that. Its still right over that hill!
This battle seems endless. Every time we are tricked by a false horizon, it’s disappointing, but this doesn’t mean we have failed. No matter how many times Moses had to admit to his people “we aren’t there yet,” they hadn’t failed. All they could do was let the disappointment pass get up and …start walking again. That is what we do now. We get up in the second special session and start fighting again!
Only God can keep us nourished. The desert was a baron place that did not provide the food Israel needed for its journey. Surrounded by dessert they would have starved to death without God. Catholics today reside in a barren society. We will get no encouragement from our society because they have turned away the compassion for the unborn has dried up. To keep from starvation in our struggle we must fallow the example of Moses did in the desert. To feed our hunger we must turn to God.
Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.
And we must repeat. Moses cried out again and again and again. Again and Again and Again God answered Moses and provided Israel with the food they needed to keep going. So it is with the struggle for Social Justice. Prayer gives us strength. Without it we will not be able to continue long. As often as we struggle so often we must pray. Only God can give us the strength for this journey.
Our people must walk together. God called Moses first, but Exodus was not Moses’ journey this. Exodus is the people’s journey. So it is when we struggle to overcome injustice. We have been blessed with many prophets to speak eloquently about the evil of Abortion, but they can not overcome this evil alone. No one could overcome this evil alone. We can only overcome this evil if we act together.
Lately, some among us have noted that the Pro-Life community has become divided among angry factions. So too it seems our own Catholic church has become divided into divergent points of view. So how do we struggle together?
Like the Israelites let’s start by sharing our Mana. God provides us each with the strength and gifts we need for the journey. But not our journey. We need to remember to use our spiritual gifts to lift up each other. Encourage your brothers and sisters. Affirm their gifts. Pray for them. Pray with them.
When they falter remember Gods greatest gift to us is his mercy. So share that mercy with your brothers and sisters on this journey. Forgive for you have been forgiven. Not everyone needs to walk the exact same path for us to reach the promise land together, but if someone is becoming radically separated from the group you may have to correct them. If you must do so gently and lovingly. Quarrels will simply tire us out on this long journey.
Heed the Prophets along the way. Even while Israel felt lost in the desert, God was guiding them. His instructions given to them through the prophets were often very specific and needed to be followed very carefully.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
When a large group of people is working towards a more just society, coordination is key. That means we all have to fallow instructions. First we need to be listening for instructions. God has blessed us with many Prophets. There are many good pro-life leaders you should be listening to, but for Catholics in the Diocese of Austin, I recommend paying special attention to anything put out by Marie Seale and the Office of Pro-Life and chaste living.
The reason is simple, our Bishop designated Marie Seale to lead Pro-Life ministry in Austin. So if you follow her instructions, you can be fairly certain you are acting in obedience to the church. If you do not receive alerts from the Office of Pro-Life, sign up here.
Trust in God! But the most important lesson we can learn from Israels long journey in the dessert is that their journey ended. God does not forsake those who follow him. One day, our struggle will come to an end. Some of us may live to see the stain of Abortion lifted from our land. Many may die before we reach the promised land. But God is guiding us to his kingdom. God can not be unfaithful so we know we will reach our destination.
My challenge to you this post is to keep marching. We can not know how much longer our journey is or what future setbacks we may face, but this I assure you, blessed are those who journey for justice. Our journey continues!