August 11, 2011 - Memorial of Saint Clare, virgin

Today's Readings

The first reading today which is taken from the book of Joshua. Moses died at the end of Deuteronomy, and Joshua is the new leader of the Hebrews. Perhaps some of the Hebrews doubted Joshua, thinking that no one could fill Moses’ shoes, that no one else could work the miracles that Moses did, but Moses never worked any miracles. Moses did not part the Red Sea. Moses did not free the Hebrews from Egypt. Moses did not make manna appear. Moses did not do any of these things. God parted the Red Sea. God freed the Hebrews. God made manna appear.

Moses was the instrument through whom God chose to act. Now God would act through Joshua. The Hebrews arrive at the Jordan river. The priests walk in carrying the Ark of the Covenant, the precious box containing the 10 Commandments, a jar of manna, and the symbol of the priesthood. The priests walk into the river and the water stops flowing. What was there flows away and no more water comes. The people of Israel, about 2 million of them all together, walk right into the Promised Land. Then the priests walk out of the river bank, and the river begins to flow again.

Why does God do this? Why did he act through these ordinary men and women? He reveals his wisdom. By using humans as prophets, he rid the world of idols. The pagans knew that there were gods or a God, so they made statues or found rocks or trees and said they were gods, but the people of Israel saw God act through a person who they knew was not God. People might convince themselves that a rock is a god. The rock never proves them wrong.

We could never make such a mistake about a human person. Either they will be bad enough that they are clearly not God, or they will be good enough to say, often and emphatically, “I am not God.” It would be impossible that any man who allowed others to believe he was God would not soon prove by his actions that they were wrong. Impossible, unless, of course, he actually was God.