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Be Merciful and Teach Me to Be, Too, Lord

First Reading: Numbers 12:1-13

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on the pretext of the marriage he had contracted with a Cushite woman. They complained, “Is it through Moses alone that the LORD speaks? Does he not speak through us also?” And the LORD heard this. Now, Moses himself was by far the meekest man on the face of the earth. So at once the LORD said to Moses and Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the meeting tent.” And the three of them went. Then the LORD came down in the column of cloud, and standing at the entrance of the tent, called Aaron and Miriam. When both came forward, he said, “Now listen to the words of the LORD: Should there be a prophet among you, in visions will I reveal myself to him, in dreams will I speak to him; not so with my servant Moses! Throughout my house he bears my trust: face to face I speak to him; plainly and not in riddles. The presence of the LORD he beholds. Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?” So angry was the LORD against them that when he departed, and the cloud withdrew from the tent, there was Miriam, a snow-white leper! When Aaron turned and saw her a leper, he said to Moses,“Ah, my lord! Please do not charge us with the sin that we have foolishly committed! Let her not thus be like the stillborn babe that comes forth from its mother’s womb with its flesh half consumed.” Then Moses cried to the LORD, “Please, not this! Pray, heal her!”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 6CD-7, 12-13

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. For I acknowledge my offense; and my sin is before me always: “Against you only have I sinned; and done what is evil in your sight.” That you may be justified in your sentence, vindicated when you condemn. Indeed, in guilt was I born, and in sin my mother conceived me. A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not off from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Gospel: Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought to him all those who were sick and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed.

ESV

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I almost feel my cheeks blushing as I read the story of Miriam and Aaron’s jealous indignation against their brother Moses. It is all too familiar to me. That friend whom others seek out for advice before coming to me. That blogger who has thousands more followers than I do. That conference speaker in high demand. How many times have I felt those same pangs? What makes them so great? God speaks through me too! I have just as much to give. I deserve to be sought out.

It sounds terrible in writing, because it is terrible. Which is precisely why I never give voice to it. But deep down, it’s there, that envy, sense of entitlement. It darkens my heart and puts up a barrier against love. It’s sin, and praise God that in His great mercy He calls me out of it, the same way He called out Miriam and Aaron. May my response of repentance be quick and sincere. May I pray as the Psalmist, “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.”

How can I love and honor Our Lord’s people if I am entrenched in comparison with them? Simply put: I can’t. I must choose. I can choose to lift others up, to rejoice over the light and the ministry that God has given them. Or I can choose to grow entangled in bitterness and resentment. By grace, I can choose to live free from this sin. By grace, I can be content with the will of God for my own life without comparing it to His will in the lives of my sisters.

Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal any envy within you.  Repent of this sin and ask Him to fill you with the desire to make others great.

photo by Corynne Olivia

Shannon Evans is a Protestant missionary turned Catholic convert who lived to tell the tale. An adoptive and biological mom of two boys, she enjoys hosing mud off children, scrubbing sticky furniture, and rushing to the ER to have nails extracted from small intestines. She escapes the chaos by blogging instead of sleeping. You can find out more about her here.

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