16th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year I

In today’s First Reading it doesn’t take long for the Israelites to prefer the thought of full stomachs and slavery to hunger pangs and freedom. The Exodus is not just a historical event; it is also the drama of man turning away from sin physically while still feeling its attraction spiritually and psychologically. Egypt in this story represents sin, which is spiritual slavery, no matter how much it seems to satisfy us. The satisfaction of sin is a hollow one. It promises contentment, but only delivers misery.

The Lord has led the Israelites out of the slavery of Egypt (sin) to form them as his people in the desert (conversion and purification). Conversion and purification can be as dry and unsatisfying, humanly speaking, as wandering the desert on an empty stomach, but it reminds us that true spiritual freedom is worth any price, any suffering.

Don’t become discouraged when your thoughts drift back to whatever slavery you’ve left behind. Savor the freedom instead. It’s an acquired taste, but a much more satisfying one.

Readings: Exodus 16:1–5, 9–15; Psalm 78:18–19, 23–28; Matthew 13:1–9. See also 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A and 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year II.