Reflection for Thursday, August 11, 2005: 19th week in Ordinary Time.

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Dilly, Barbara
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Reflecting on the story of Joshua and the children of Israel in today's Old Testament lesson, I can visualize the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant ahead of the people now wading into the waters at the edge of the Jordan. I can sense the significance of this moment. "The River Jordan is chilly and wide" as the folk song goes. But as I follow the story, my attention is kept on the ark. This isn't just a story about how the Lord led the people through a major barrier that represented a great danger to them. And it isn't just a story about the mighty leader, Joshua, who did what the Lord told him to do. It is a story about a people who were led by the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant, a constant reminder that God was with them. But ultimately, the story is not about the people, not about their leader, not about the river, and not about the priests, but about the living God in their midst.|Crossing the Jordan River is a reoccurring theme in the Bible, always associated with significant choices to follow God. The Psalm for today reminds me that the people of God had a long tradition of singing alleluias to the Lord for turning back the Jordan River and building a sanctuary in their midst. This one has a particularly joyous ring to it when you read it aloud with feeling, relating to the experience of deliverance from overwhelming obstacles. If you have never tried reading praise Psalms dramatically, I encourage you to pray this way. It is a good way to start the day. |So what does this have to do with the Gospel for today? I think it has to do with how did Peter know that Jesus was the fulfillment of the covenant God made with the people of Israel? And I think that Peter's questions are our own. How do we know that the Lord is in our midst? Just as I can sense the significance of the courage it must have taken those priests with the Ark of the Covenant to "wade in the water," as the song goes, I can personally relate to the significance of Peter's question. Wading into the cold deep waters of our own hearts to forgive our brothers and sisters for their debts to us is often a chilling thought. But hardly a day goes by that we don't stand at the river's edge. Just touch the water, these lessons teach us, the Lord is with us. Once we are willing to get our feet wet, it isn't that difficult to forgive, the raging sea subsides. Alleluia!
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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