Daily Reflection
August 17th, 1999
Tom Purcell
Judges 6:11-24a
Matthew 19:23-30

Today's readings hit me where I live, literally.  Gideon's lament could be my family's, since we were one of those blessed with abundant rain this weekend (10 inches) which translated into 18 inches in the basement.  When I went down into the basement on Saturday morning (and foolishly started thrashing about without thinking of the possible electrical implications) the only things not floating were my daughter's bed (with her in it) and several heavy bookshelves.  "Why us?" certainly passed our lips.  But then, seriously, I thought of all the times that scripture instructs us that God doesn't promise we won't be tested, only that we will receive succor when we are.  And I thought of a friend who recently told me of an African saying in times of stress "God must love us, for He plays with us."  A smile came to my lips and heart, and I dug in.  Of course, some members of my family chastised me for being "Pollyanna" but eventually their spirits improved as well.

The gospel reading also touched me.  As are most middle class Americans we are rich beyond our ability to appreciate our fortune.  We take for granted our bounty.  The price of the ruined items which we will discard would provide sufficient income for a family to live without fear of need for a year in a place such as the Dominican Republic.  We feel the loss, but will be able to absorb it without a significant change in our lifestyle.  And Christ admonishes us that rich people cannot easily enter the kingdom.  Most of us don't see ourselves as rich, and I think this is precisely the problem Jesus was addressing.  Our material lifestyles are a hindrance.  And when we can't keep our materials in perspective, when we feel the loss of goods more than the loss of good, when we are concerned with damage to things more than damage to people, we do place roadblocks in our path to salvation.  And so when God allows misfortune to exist in the world, He shows us that we are loved, because we are allowed to confront the reality, the detachment that Christ was teaching.  And all this because a sump pump couldn't keep up!!

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