Week of Proper 9, Year Two[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 1 2, 3 (morning) // 4, 7 (evening)
If some people reach their promised land before others, is it really the land of God’s promise? In today’s first reading, two tribes of Israel find the perfect territory to settle with their cattle, and they ask Moses for permission to stop there instead of crossing the Jordan with everyone else. But Moses asks them, “Shall your brothers go to war while you sit here?” It seems unjust to Moses that the Reubenites and the Gadites should stop to enjoy peace and build prosperity, while their brothers and sisters continue to seek and struggle.
So the Reubenites and the Gadites come up with a two-part plan: “We will build sheepfolds here for our flocks, and towns for our little ones, but we will take up arms as a vanguard before the Israelites, until we have brought them to their place.” In other words, these tribes will both claim a place of promise for themselves and their loved ones, and also lead the fight for their brothers and sisters to find safe and life-giving places of their own.
Many of us have found some measure of a promised land–that is, a context for work that can support a good quality of life, and a place of safety and connectedness for ourselves and future generations. Many others of us, whether for our whole lives or for seasons of life, are far from those promises. Today’s reading reminds us that none of us is truly in a land of promise until we strive to secure those promises for everyone else.
Moses knows this, and the Reubenites and the Gadites sense this truth as well. So they promise, “We will not return to our homes until all the Israelites have obtained their inheritance.” For, even if we do find good things for ourselves, we cannot truly rest in them until all people have their share of peace and the riches of this earth.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.