In chapter fourteen of the book of Exodus, we have the famous passage which describes the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites. Pharaoh, after being punished by God, allowed the Israelites to go with Moses. But after some time the mind of pharaoh changed and he sent his army to bring them back. The Israelites who were camping near the red sea, saw from afar Pharaoh and his strong army on chariots and horses advancing toward them. Now the Israelites, in their great fear started to blame Moses by saying:
“What have you done to us? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” But Moses said to them, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
In our everyday life, there are many occasions which can make us fear and despair. The response of very many people in such situations is the same as that of the Israelites. Fear and despair in the spiritual life is a sin against the supernatural virtue of hope. It is said that the easiest way for the devil to make someone sin and go against God is by causing discouragement. When there is discouragement, there follows many other evils.
Pope Francis in the book, Open Mind and Believing Heart, explains the sin of Israelites against hope.
The people in their despair in the desert say ‘No’ to the hope of a living God, thus preferring to worship an idol. They say ‘No’ to the hope of project of salvation and long for the onions and garlic of slavery. They say, ‘No” to being led.
Discouragement and despair can disintegrate the strength, combativeness and apostolic endurance. St. Vincent, having understood the importance of virtue of hope, asked us – his sons and daughters – to be zealous which is to actively live the virtue of hope and courage in our apostolate. In the Gospel, many times Jesus has told us not to fear. The basis for our hope is the Risen Lord who is with us. It is only when we have this strong faith and trust in Him, we can be still and see how the Lord will fight for us and with us as Moses told to the Israelites.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.
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