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So the Israelites are no longer under the oppressive thumb of Egypt. They are free. When they leave Egypt in freedom, they enter the desert where they find they have no grocery stores, no banana trees, no sheep wandering around. But they have God. So they turn to God, and he sends them food for one day only. That is an important detail. He does not make a huge reservoir or set up supermarkets, so that they would be set for months, perhaps years. Only one day of food. Why? So they have to do the same thing again the next day. They must go to God. Every day they will go to God, every day they will experience God, and see God in their lives. Every day means that they will understand that they are important and valuable to God.
Nineteen years ago, I went to the Holy Land. We were on a bus traveling from the Sea of Galilee region to Jerusalem. A few miles outside the city, I looked out the window and saw nothing but dirt and gravel. The bus stopped, and we all got out. There was a small patch of grass near the road. I wondered what significant biblical event happened at this place. Our tour guide said to us, “Note this patch of grass. It says in the psalm that the shepherd leads his flock to verdant pasture. Here it is, your verdant pasture. The shepherd brings his sheep here to eat. The sheep are going to devour this grass up like lawnmowers. When the sheep have eaten all the grass, they are not worried. The sheep do not say, ‘Oh no, we ate all the grass now what are we going to do? We will die in this deserted area.’ They are not worried because they have a good shepherd. They learn to trust their shepherd who knows where the next patch of grass is located.” It is true. Every day the shepherd finds verdant pasture. After a while, the sheep never worry because they are valuable to the shepherd.
Jesus said, do not worry about what you are to eat, what you are to wear, or about your very lives. The reason why he said we should not worry is because we are valuable to God. “Look at the birds,” he said. They never worry, and yet we are more valuable than a flock of birds. What Jesus was saying is that we cannot have a strong relationship with God if we have low self-esteem. If you have low self-esteem, you will worry because God forgot about you or does not care. The only way you can have a great relationship with God is that you are absolutely convinced that you are valuable. And the only way you will be convinced that you are important to God is seeing God in your life every day.
It was very hot this week. Yesterday, however, there was a thunderstorm. When the rain stopped, I said to God, “Thank you for turning on the AC, it is comfortable.” God replied, “Finally, some credit where it is due.” We need to see and experience God every day.
Jesus told a parable of a man who fell to robbers. They stripped of his clothes, beat him, and left half dead on the side of the road. If anyone had a reason to worry about what he was to wear and about his own life, it would be this man. A Samaritan walks by and has compassion on the man and thereby cared for him. Here is the question? Where do you get compassion? The Priest and the Levite do not have compassion because they walked by the man. Not everyone has compassion, so how do you acquire it? You get compassion by needing God every day. That is, when you see God in your life every day and experience God every day. Once we understand that we are valuable to God, we recognize that others are also valuable. So here is the faith question: Do the people who work with you, who live with you, who see you every day feel valuable? If they do, then you have compassion. Like God need to see the value of people. The only way you can be convinced that others are valuable is when you recognize your own value. And the only way to know that is by needing God every day.Back to All Homilies