Today is Friday the 13 August, in the Nineteenth week of Ordinary time.
The monks of the Abbey of Keur Moussa sing, Sur tes murailles. ‘On your walls, Jerusalem, I set watchmen. Day or night they must never be silent.’ These words from the Prophet Isaiah speak of the care God has for his people, watching over them at every moment, to guard them, guide them, protect them. As you enter into prayer, ponder for a moment the care that God has for you, how God, even now, is holding you in the palm of his hand.
Today’s reading is from the Book of Joshua.
And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac; and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in its midst; and afterwards I brought you out. When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your ancestors with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. When they cried out to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did to Egypt. Afterwards you lived in the wilderness for a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan; they fought with you, and I handed them over to you, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. When you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I handed them over to you. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove out before you the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not laboured, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you eat the fruit of vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.
Joshua gives us an interesting interpretation of the history of the people of Israel from Abraham until his day. It is God who's seen as directing history, not the people involved. The same events could have been described in merely human terms. Surely too, if the same events were told of by the Perizzites, the Hittities or the Girgashites, the story would sound very different. Look at your own life history: can you tell it as a story of God's action in your life?
As you look back at your life can you enjoy the happy times and see them as God's gift? When you see any failures or sad times, can you see how they might have helped in your growth, perhaps making you more humble or more compassionate with others?
Listen again to the reading, and notice how this story which might appear to be one of continuous violence and conflict is also a story of God's unfailing love for his people.
Talk to God in your own words about your own life story. Can you be as grateful for what God does in your life as Joshua was for all that God did for him?
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.