Introduction to Numbers
Why Should I Care?
When the Israelites commit the ultimate sin—doubting God—the Almighty Father breaks out his worst punishment yet. Remember that time you got grounded for the weekend and missed that awesome party? Well, the Israelites got grounded for forty years and weren't allowed to set foot in the Promised Land until half the community had died off. But even though God can dole out consequences with the best of them, it's also clear that he loves his little rugrats to pieces. He sets limits for them because they're his chosen people and he wants them to be the best they can be. Aww. Sniff. Honestly, Israelites, God only sends poisonous snakes to bite you because he loves you. So next time your parents aren't acting as cool as you know they could be, just remember, it could be way worse. At least when you get a little sassy, they don't send you to your room without dinner for the next forty years.
January 18 Friday
Numbers, Chapter 12, Verse 5-8
5 Then the LORD came down in a column of cloud, and standing at the entrance of the tent, called, “Aaron and Miriam.” When both came forward, 6 the LORD said: Now listen to my words: If there are prophets among you, in visions I reveal myself to them, in dreams I speak to them; 7 Not so with my servant Moses! Throughout my house he is worthy of trust: 8 face to face I speak to him, plainly and not in riddles. The likeness of the LORD he beholds. Why, then, do you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?
Moses was 100 percent for God and God had Moses back; protecting him from the spin (media/backbiters) of his time. Moses was humbled before God, while at the same time confident. Moses lived the Shema Yisrael which is the same prayer the Christ most likely prayed every morning Himself and is still prayed by pious Jews today.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your Heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind, and with all your strength.
Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel says of Moses:
God by referring to Moses in terms of “In all My House he is trusted,” we understand that G-d has no reservations at all about Moses’ trustworthiness. G-d has absolutely no qualms about providing Moses with all the information about His business, as it were. Moses was deemed worthy of such immense trust because “The man Moses was the humblest person who ever walked the face of the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3). Relative to G-d, Moses totally nullified himself. He had no ego when it came to the Master of the world. His interests were 100% the interests of the Almighty; consequently, G-d had no reason to withhold any secrets from him. As a result, as R. Moshe Chaim Luzzato writes, every secret of creation was open to him. May we even remotely approach the level of Moses in reducing our egos to the minimum in order to reap the benefits of enjoying G-d’s secrets, and may we, thereby, enjoy the maximum happiness and satisfaction for the rest of our lives – in this world and in the world to come.
Remember to always reverence and respect those who have dedicated their lives to the service of God; for when you do, you do it, for God.
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
It's said that the words "Be not afraid" appear in Scripture 366 times one for each day of the year (leap years included). Certainly, we need this sort of ongoing reminder and encouragement; life can be difficult and is often filled with anxieties, great and small. Jesus told St. Martha that, unlike her sister Mary, she was "anxious and troubled about many things." Martha took this correction to heart and learned to trust in the Lord so much so that later, even as she grieved the death of her brother Lazarus, she was able to acknowledge Jesus as the Resurrection and the life. Martha's sister St. Mary Magdalene likewise acknowledged Christ's power on this occasion; she was one of the few followers of Christ who, on Good Friday, dared to proclaim her loyalty to Him publicly by standing beneath His Cross, and for her courage and devotion she was rewarded by being the first witness of the Resurrection.
There's a saying that "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." Prayer is indeed the key to overcoming or coping with anxiety, for it reassures us of God's presence and reminds us of our need to rely on His strength, not on our own. As St. John Vianney said, "God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry." All Christians are called to be a source of strength and courage to others. One who understood this was St. Catherine of Siena, who centuries before women were acknowledged as equal to men used her tremendous influence to guide the affairs of popes and kings. The papacy had found Rome to be hostile and unpleasant and had taken refuge in the French city of Avignon. This "temporary" arrangement dragged on and on, to the detriment of the Church. Catherine finally persuaded a timid Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon and return to Rome.Another woman of strength and courage was the early third-century martyr St. Perpetua, a young noblewoman (and presumably widow) who had recently given birth to an infant son. After being arrested as a Christian with some companions, she kept diary in prison. She wrote, "What a day of horror! Terrible heat, owing to the crowds! Rough treatment by the soldiers! To crown all, I was tormented with anxiety for my baby. . .. Such anxieties I suffered for many days, but I obtained leave for my baby to remain in the prison with me and being relieved of my trouble and anxiety for him, I at once recovered my health, and my prison became a palace to me and I would rather have been there than anywhere else. St. Perpetua, her companion St. Felicity, and several other Christians were mauled by wild animals and then put to death by the sword; according to legend, the executioner was so shaken by Perpetua's brave demeanor that she herself had to guide his sword to her neck.
Compared with what the martyrs suffered, the things we worry about may seem trifling, but God offers us the same gifts of courage and strength that sustained the martyrs in their trials." Prayer is indeed the key to overcoming or coping with anxiety, for it reassures us of God's presence and reminds us of our need to rely on His strength, not on our own, remember how St. Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to Him for help. This attitude of confidence applies even to our encounters with evil, for St. Teresa of Avila notes that every time evil spirits fail to terrify us or dissuade us from doing good, "they lose strength, and the soul masters them more easily. If the Lord is powerful and they are His slaves, what harm can they do to those who are servants of so great a King and Lord?" Nothing can happen to us without our Father's knowledge and permission, and He is able to arrange all things for our good. We, for our part, however, must avoid useless speculation; as St. Francis de Sales tells us, "It will be quite enough to receive the evils that come upon us from time to time, without anticipating them by the imagination." According to St. Jerome, facing our fears and doing our duty in spite of them is an important way of taking up our cross; thus, we can reassure ourselves that in our efforts to be brave, we are actually serving Christ. One who understood this was St. Thomas More, who from his prison cell wrote to his daughter, "I will not mistrust Him, Meg, although I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. As this English saint notes, we must keep our focus on Christ, not on ourselves; once we turn to Jesus in trust, we are ready to follow the advice of St. Francis de Sales: "If you earnestly desire to be delivered from some evil, or to attain to some good, above all things, calm and tranquilize your mind, and compose your judgment and will; then quietly and gently pursue your aim, adopting suitable means." Jesus offers us His peace; if we accept it and use His grace, nothing shall overcome us.
Complete My Joy
Faith Formation and Human Formation of Children
81. Your domestic church, as you continue to grow, educates your children powerfully. This begins when families introduce their young children to Jesus in the Eucharist. I want to especially encourage you to bring your young children to Mass. Your presence is wanted and needed among us in the family of the Church. While the squirming or crying of children may seem bothersome, these certainly do not block your reception of God’s grace. “If the Church is not crying, it is dying.” Present at Mass during these early years, your children are learning the rhythm of relationship with the Lord and His Church.
82. As children get older, it is important for parents to consider the best way to intentionally bring them up in the faith so that they take part in the mission to “guard, reveal and communicate love.” Of course, to take part in this mission, your children must first have known and experienced that love themselves. This will happen by way of prayer, liturgy, the sacraments, catechesis, retreats and family customs.
83. Here I offer three considerations to you parents to take up in prayer. First, how your children will understand the faith. Second, how they will experience God’s love. And, third, how they will see the faith in the witness of others.
84. The propaganda of atheism has made great inroads in sowing doubt in our young people, even as young as elementary school age. Atheistic arguments often include the idea that somehow science has disproved religion as simply superstitious and even a cause of more harm than good. Sadly, we have often failed to proclaim the faith in a credible way, which further allows these errors to gain traction. I assure you that these arguments are no match for the sound intellectual tradition that is ours. It is the mission, not just of the clergy, but also the domestic church to understand and communicate these truths. The family should be a place where young people work these questions out and are encouraged to engage the faith. A knowing faith is a strong faith.
85. Our faith also entails an encounter. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI famously said, “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”24 Have you encountered Jesus? Are your children convinced that they have encountered Jesus Christ personally? Do they know the Holy Spirit’s voice of peace in them in such a way that they can be led by Him? When your children encounter God’s love in a true way, they will be able to own their Catholic faith in a more profound way. This happens first and foremost in your family as you are attentive to God’s presence and as you are faithful to prayer and the sacraments. In addition, the various youth retreats and school activities that give young people Christian experiences can play a vital role in ensuring that young people have the encounter with Christ and so be His disciple.
86. Finally, quite often the faith of a young person is invited to greater depth by the example of others. You parents are, of course, the first examples. The families and friends that your children spend time with will also make a tremendous difference. The words of Pope St. Paul VI remain true, that we listen “more willingly to witnesses than to teachers.”25 Young people, upon seeing the witness of others, especially peers and those just older than them, can be encouraged to step beyond a private notion of the faith and be the encouragement for others. How hard it is for a young person to live the faith alone. Here I encourage the many ways families get together to support and build each other up in faith.
The Way Mortification
"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."
If the grain of wheat does not die, it remains unfruitful. Don't you want to be a grain of wheat, to die through mortification, and to yield a rich harvest? May Jesus bless your wheat-field!
Life First 9 Days for Life
9 Days for Life is a "digital pilgrimage" of prayer and action focused on cherishing the gift of every person's life. A multi-faceted novena highlighting a different intention each day provides reflections, bonus information, and suggested actions. Join to receive the novena through the 9 Days for Life app, daily emails, or daily texts. See below for information on how else you can get involved! #9DaysforLife #OurPrayersMatter
Intercession: May each person suffering from the loss of a child through abortion find hope and healing in Christ.
Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be
Reflection: After more than four decades of legalized abortion, many children’s lives have been ended, and many parents and family members suffer that loss—often in silence. Yet God’s greatest desire is to forgive. No matter how far we have each strayed from His side, He says to us, “Don’t be afraid. Draw close to my heart.” Be assured that it is never too late to seek God's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Acts of Reparation (Choose one.)
· Abstain from meat today. If you are already abstaining from meat today, skip your favorite snack, too.
· Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (www.usccb.org/divine-mercy-chaplet) for those who are suffering the loss of a child through abortion, asking that they find healing and peace.
· Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention.