“I don’t want to! I don’t want it! No!” I hear my three-year-old repeat over and over again, as we try to get him to eat healthy, use the bathroom, play nicely with his brothers, get his shoes and coat on to leave the house, or to do pretty much anything. As parents it can get very frustrating, especially if we are in a hurry, haven’t slept well or are just plain cranky. As he goes through this stage of exploring his independence, it seems that he only obeys when a consequence is enforced or it is something that he really likes to do.
When I read through today’s first reading, it sounded all too familiar. “We’re hungry! We’re thirsty! This food is gross!” (Ref Numbers 21:5) God gives them food and drink and just like my three-year-old, they exclaim, “I don’t want it!” Only when they get bit by serpents do they realize their waywardness and repent. It all sounds so childish. But, perhaps it is meant to…
As soon as the Israelites confessed their sins and begged God for mercy, he alleviated their suffering almost instantly. But, why? Because they were His children, His beloved, His chosen ones. Just as Jesus says in the Gospel “The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone…” (John 8:29) so He also says to us “I am with you, I will not leave you alone.”
It is a mystery to me how God does not get frustrated with us. In the case of the Israelites, he was leading them out of slavery toward the Promised Land and provided them with food and water, and they STILL complained. Did they not see all that He was doing for them? In our case, he leads us out of a life of sin toward Eternal Life and provides for our daily needs and yet we STILL complain. What gives? What else could possibly make us happy?
As our Lenten journey slowly comes to close, I would invite you to shift your focus. May we follow the example of our Lord, and seek not what makes us happy, but in always doing what is pleasing to the Father. (ref John 21:30)
Tami Urcia spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, while simultaneously studying Theology and Philosophy in Spanish. She has worked in Family Life Ministry at both the diocesan and parish levels. She currently works for Diocesan, is a freelance translator and blogger. She and her Peruvian husband are raising their children bilingual and love sharing reflections of life, love and everything in between. Find out more about her here: https://togetherandalways.