Saint Margaret of Scotland (Optional Memorial)

  They beheld stupendous wonders.

 

Chapters 11 through 19 of the Book of Wisdom recount God’s marvelous and powerful deeds as he rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.   But why did the Exodus story need to be told again?   Didn’t every faithful Jew already know it by heart?

Some context can help.   The Book of Wisdom was written in the first century BC, in the Jewish community of Alexandria, Egypt.   The Jews there were surrounded by Greek-speaking pagans whose culture and traditions threatened to undermine their beliefs.   Many Jews were already adopting Greek ways and practices.

This environment was so influential that the author of Wisdom felt he needed to remind his people once again of the great God they worshipped—the One who had miraculously saved them through his power and might.   Despite what they were hearing from the culture around them, God had not changed.   He was still mighty and powerful, and he was still calling them to be holy and set apart for him.

We too have heard the biblical stories again and again.   We hear them at Mass and when we spend time reading God’s word.   But we can never hear them or read them too many times.   Like the Jews in Alexandria, we are surrounded by many people who don’t believe in a God who is mighty and at the same time loving, kind, and merciful.   Unless we continue to recall what he has done for us, we too risk being subtly influenced by all that we see and hear around us.

This is also why the Mass is so important.   In the Liturgy of the Word, we hear once again about the God who loves us and calls us his own.   In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is made present to us.   As we receive his Body and Blood, we can echo the words of the author of Wisdom and say, “I behold a stupendous wonder!”

The next time you go to Mass, try to set aside all your concerns and distractions.   Then ask the Lord to give you the grace to hear everything he is saying to you.   Let him show you, again and again, who he is and why he has saved you.

“Father, help me to keep in mind just how great and wonderful you are!”

Psalm 105:2-3, 36-37, 42-43
Luke 18:1-8

Word Among Us