‘Do not be afraid’, Commentary on some verses from Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

‘DO NOT BE AFRAID’

Commentary on some verses from Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

Year 1, Week 17, Friday                                Glenroy 1975

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: These are the appointed festivals of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed festivals.        Leviticus, 23:1-2

The most important feast of the year was celebrated in first month of the year; the second most important feast was celebrated at the beginning of the second half of the year. In this way, ordinary life was placed within a religious context. Food and time were sanctified by the recollection of the great acts of God.

Life today is frantic. How are we to live continuously in the presence of God?

This is done by continually listening to the voice of God speaking in the heart. He is always active, in and around all. His voice can be heard in every circumstance. When the surrounding noise fades away, when the ear becomes attentive to a softer voice, God can be heard.

This done with passion and insistence, for the kingdom of heaven is taken by storm. The result is to live in joy, with continual thanks to God for his actions in past history and in the future establishment of his kingdom. The happy life is in God and with God. The Holy Spirit fulfills the dispensation of the old Testament and perfects the work of Christ in the New.

Year 1, Week 18, Monday                                       Glenroy 1977

“The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”        Numbers 11:4-6

Moses feels the burden of office, for the people complain at the monotony of their food. Even though it is bread from heaven, they tire of it and long for the leeks and onions of Egypt. They grumble and ask for meat, at which Moses feels lost, for they are a multitude. Yet meat they will have. If manna fell with dew from heaven, quails will be brought in by a strong wind. They will have enough to eat and more than enough.

Humans are demanding. They have received great gifts and yet tire of them. Christians receive bread form heaven, the true Bread, yet they tire of it. They are tired of the Gospel and even tired of Christ. There is a danger, therefore, of looking back to the lesser goods. A choice is there, either to return to the paganism of the past or to look to better food, for as meat is more nourishing than manna and the wind is stronger than dew, so the food to come is great than the food already given. A new and better food is at hand. And it is this: that each is Christ, each is temple, because is redeemed

Year 1, Week 18, Wednesday                                Glenroy 1977

“Yes, and we saw giants there. We felt like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”Numbers 13:33

The People had seen the victory of God over Pharaoh and his army. They had seen his power in providing manna and quails in the desert. They had sent his majesty on Sinai and the heard the marvels of his Law. But at the moment of entry into the Promised Land, they lose heart.

Their disbelief implies the the God who showed signs and wonders is incapable of more, that the God who promised them a land is false to his word. It is disbelief that God is God. Therefore, the are condemned to stay in the desert and die there, to lose a whole generation.

The lesson is clear. All is possible for those with faith; but those without faith are doomed to stay in their own particular desert.

Those who have progressed on the path of holiness, being buoyed up by the enthusiasm of youth and the energy of a new revelation, progress quickly at first but then stop. Consciously or sub-consciously they hesitate to take the final step. Fear holds back, fear of imaginary giants. “We felt like grasshoppers”.

Only faith can save from fear. Otherwise we are condemned to remain in our desert

Year 1, Week 18, Thursday                                     Glenroy 1975

“Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and against Aaron. The people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink.” Then Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting; they fell on their faces, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them.”        Numbers 20:2-6

When faced with the difficulties of their desert wanderings, the People of Israel looked back to the pleasant life of Egypt. They complain and offend against the Lord, for complaint is a denial, a doubting of his sovereignty.

Moses and Aaron, however, pray to the Lord who provides the solution.

Complaint is doubt, but prayer is made in faith, and makes the seemingly impossible come into being. The prayer of faith is the greatest human act, for in it we are one with God, sharing his power, that miraculous creativity which transforms things utterly. It is not a prayer of disunion, a pleading to some uncaring deity. It is a sharing God’s effectiveness; and by it we make the mountains move and the rocks provide water. It is our joy and our peace. We do not challenge God but unite with him, making his will ours. We become holy as he is holy, determined with his determination to overcome very obstacle to our purpose, his purpose. And thus, through the prayer of faith, spoken or unspoken, we bring about the Kingdom of God on earth, the Promised Land destined for us.

Year 1, Week 18, Friday                                          Glenroy 1977

“Understand this today, therefore, and take it to heart: the Lord is God indeed …. He and no other.”         Deuteronomy 4:39

The writer, reflecting on the course of Jewish history, is amazed at the stories, the laws, the wonders and signs, and exclaims “Understand this today, therefore, and take it to heart: the Lord is God indeed …. He and no other.”

As we look at 2000 years of the Church’s history, indeed, as we look at the marvels of human ingenuity, the beauty of human creativity, at all that is good and true, we proclaim that Principle, that Force, that Cause which engendered all these things, and him we adore.

Not less human than we but more human, not less personal but more, not less powerful or less beautiful than his works but more so; more true, more majestic, more glorious than man is the Man, the Christ, and him we adore. That future Man who is the source of everything: him we adore, in him we have faith, in him we are.

And as we worship him we know him to whom Man is subject, the One dwelling in light inaccessible and him we worship silence, the Principle of Principle, God beyond God. ‘He alone is God, the and no other’.

Year 1, Week 19, Tuesday                                       Burwood 1983

“Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. …. Do not fear or be dismayed.”        Deuteronomy 31:6, 8

Those who wish to be with God must enter into situations that will at first terrify. There is no escape because it is the necessary step towards finding the true nature of things. Only when faced with conflict can they learn to be resolute; only if they carry burdens can they become strong. Only if they face hell can they be with God.

 

 

 

 

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About interfaithashram

Rev. Dr. John Dupuche is a Roman Catholic Priest, a senior lecturer at MCD University of Divinity, and Honorary Fellow at Australian Catholic University. His doctorate is in Sanskrit in the field of Kashmir Shaivism. He is chair of the Catholic Interfaith Committee of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and has established a pastoral relationship with the parishes of Lilydale and Healesville. He is the author of 'Abhinavagupta: the Kula Ritual as elaborated in chapter 29 of the Tantraloka', 2003; 'Jesus, the Mantra of God', 2005; 'Vers un tantra chrétien' in 2009; translated as 'Towards a Christian Tantra' in 2009. He has written many articles. He travels to India each year. He lives in an interfaith ashram.
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