freely united lenten grumbling

In those days, in their thirst for water,
the people grumbled against Moses,
saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?
Was it just to have us die here of thirst
with our children and our livestock?”
So Moses cried out to the LORD,
“What shall I do with this people?
a little more and they will stone me!”
The LORD answered Moses,
“Go over there in front of the people,
along with some of the elders of Israel,
holding in your hand, as you go,
the staff with which you struck the river.
I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb.
Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it
for the people to drink.”
This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.
The place was called Massah and Meribah,
because the Israelites quarreled there
and tested the LORD, saying,
“Is the LORD in our midst or not?”    –Ex 17:3-7

They’re full of doubt, confusion and despair.  Many are thirsty for the meeting of basic needs and justice: the Israelites in the desert, Christians in our modern world, and all of humanity who has been impacted by oppression, natural disasters, war, violence, greed and all sin.

I wonder who is thirsty today?  Who may feel abandoned and doubt if God is in their midst?   I remember the union workers in Wisconsin.  Their story and struggle has been swept behind Japan and Libya in the news headlines, but still has great meaning.  If you haven’t heard, the law that prevents the Wisconsin civil workers from maintaining their bargaining rights was due to go into effect last weekend.  Instead, the law is stalled in the courts, creating confusion about whether it has been enacted or not.

Madison Wisconsin Protest
Scene from Wisconsin's Capitol

Like the Israelites, the unions of history were able to escape from slavery.  We’ve all been liberated by God and unions for fair pay and hours, safe working conditions and proper benefits.  I am so thankful for the justice that we have inherited from our union grandparents. The heroes and saints who freed us are not individuals, but entire communities.

Now our generation is wandering in the desert, not really sure what God is up to. The union story is not unlike our faith story.  Although it sometimes takes a long time for things to be as they should, it doesn’t take long for us to take things for granted.  It doesn’t take long for us to grumble against our leaders.

It’s easy to do this in political life and it’s very tempting to do this in faith life.  When we’re faithful citizens, the messes mix together.  The history of the union struggle reminds me I am proud to be Christian, specifically a Catholic.  Sure our Church is a community diseased by our human sinfulness. But we are also a community of saints.  I feel very grateful for the service and leadership of our bishops, especially in the labor struggle.  I am delighted by the statements that have been made against oppression.  And, in regard to the ongoing struggle in Wisconsin, my favorite part of the story is that the Catholic bishops made a public statement in support of the unions.

Madison Protest
Inside Wisconsin's Capitol

The Lenten season challenges us all. We realize our need for redemption, for Jesus and justice. We look in the mirror and read the news and then thirst for clarity, strong faith and strength.  Our social sins are just as ugly as our personal ones.

In community we approach our dark struggles with actions of prayer, fasting and alms-giving.  In our politics and faith, we wake up and notice that we have much to be grateful for, and this feeds us with hope.  We thirst for justice and then we remember we’ve been redeemed before, so we trust.  The ugly shall turn into Alleluias, and we’ll have joy all around.

A version of this post was previously published on the Young Adult Catholics blog.

Photo credit: Inside Wisconsin’s Capitol http://www.flickr.com/photos/52421717@N00/5454861442/

 

5 thoughts on “freely united lenten grumbling

  1. Thank you, Sr. Julia, for this post, and its publication at the Young Adult Catholic’s site. I saw it there, but am just now getting to the fullness of your words here. Such a Lenten reflection! Messy. Jesus. Business. INDEED!

    I appreciate these lines, especially:

    “Now our generation is wandering in the desert, not really sure what God is up to. The union story is not unlike our faith story. Although it sometimes takes a long time for things to be as they should, it doesn’t take long for us to take things for granted. It doesn’t take long for us to grumble against our leaders….It’s easy to do this in political life and it’s very tempting to do this in faith life. When we’re faithful citizens, the messes mix together.”

    I’m with you in your gratitude for the service and leadership of our Bishops. Let’s continue to pray, and act according to our consciences, eh? Oh, and I look forward to sharing this with my other Visitation Sisters and Companions, who are passionate about such topics of social justice and the roles we play as a prayerful presence in the world.

    Peace, and as our Visitation co-founders say, “LIVE + JESUS!”
    Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde
    Visitation Companion

    1. Melissa,

      Thanks so much for your enthusiastic gospel companionship! Thanks for your prayers and support, thanks for sharing my writing with others. And, thanks for the work you do to build the reign of God!!

      Peace be with you and your community!
      Julia

  2. Sister,

    I love your blog. I found it the other day after reading this post on Young Adult Catholics, and now I’ve read through it in its entirety (at least, I think I have). You’re a beautiful writer, and I very much appreciate the integration of topics on social justice. Your words are holy, and while reading them, they feed my desire to come closer to Christ.

    Have you considered writing about an insider’s pespective of sisterhood? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

    Thanks so much!
    Kristin

    1. Kristin,

      Wow, thank you for your amazingly kind words! I am so touched, and humbled. Goodness, thank you. It really amazes me how God can use me when I try to be open to it, I continue to be awed with God’s ways of pulling all of us into union. So, thank you for reading and being open to God’s power too!

      What do you mean by insiders perspective of sisterhood? What are you interested in hearing about?

      God bless you!
      Peace,
      Julia

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