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Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Ex. 12:37-42 & Mt. 12:14-21

The Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years, latterly in slavery, and although God had a plan to free them He was very patient in carrying it out. How often can we not see what God’s plan is in our own lives!

But if you and I feel insignificant in the whole of world history, and that we really do not count for much in the overall picture, then nothing can be further from the truth. Each one of us is very important in God’s eyes, even in the overall plan for human history. The world may take little or no note of our existence, but each one of us is precious in God’s estimation. The words of Isaiah, quoted in today’s Gospel, “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved, the favourite of my soul” were fulfilled in Jesus. They are also fulfilled in each one of us for we have been called to be like Jesus, children of the Father. We may have low self-esteem and feel unimportant but we are indeed His loved ones in whom He takes delight.

The Israelites too must have wondered whether God had forgotten them but they held on to their faith in Him, and at the appointed time He led them to freedom. Although we cannot see where God is leading us we must hope that it is to Heaven. We have to learn to trust Him and leave our lives in His hands; this will save a lot of worrying on our part. When we wake up every morning our first two words could be ‘Our Father’ as we leave all the cares and anxieties of the day in His capable hands. If He cannot look after us no one can!

Today's Gospel prompts us to consider what Jesus had just been through. He felt for His cousin, John, who had just been imprisoned by Herod. Crowds of sceptics hounded Him. Witnesses to His "deeds of power" were unrepentant and unbelieving (Mt. 11:2-21). And now some Pharisees were attacking Him publicly, all because they claimed that His disciples, who plucked ears of corn and ate them, did not keep the Sabbath, while He had healed a man on the Sabbath.

How did Jesus respond? Rather than continually confront His sceptics and critics, He chose to withdraw with His Father. These were vital times of refreshment, opportunities to be renewed and refilled with the Father's love. By distancing Himself, as was His habit, Jesus could recharge Himself spiritually.

Few of us meet such opposition on a daily basis. But every one of us does become drained by the circumstances of our lives from time to time. We struggle to meet deadlines at work or to make progress with jobs at home. Disputes with family members can develop. Loneliness or fear sometimes exhaust us emotionally. In all of these situations we need to take Jesus' example and withdraw - and not just when we already feel worn down, but every day, before we run into such difficulties.

Prayer is our strength! Though everything in us argues that we have more pressing needs, we are best able to meet and fulfil those needs when we have spent time being filled with the Father’s love and life.

Prayer is our defence! Rather than continually taking the blows of life, it gives us the opportunity to rest, to heal, and to be clothed with the armour of God.

Prayer is our wisdom! As we begin to take on His mind and thoughts we can be ready with a wise and godly response when we come up against difficulties and controversies.

Lord Jesus, You are our strength and our help and You fill us and sustain us, help us to stay close to You today to enable us to be refreshed with Your life.

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