Monday, August 6, 2012

Confisgated Items

The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
The Israelites said to them,
"Would that we had died at the LORD's hand in the land of Egypt,
as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!
But you had to lead us into this desert
to make the whole community die of famine!"

Then the LORD said to Moses,
"I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.
Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion;
thus will I test them,
to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

When I was leaving my last assignment the grade school arranged a farewell mass with me.  When I walked into St. Barnabas the church was full and every single student had a construction paper “roman collar” around their neck (imagine 800 miniature priests).  Kathy Friess, the Vice-Principle introduced me explaining that over the four years: “We all know that Fr. Michael is all about VOCATIONS, VOCATIONS, VOCATIONS.”  I’ll never forget seeing an entire church of children and families all wearing roman collars!  

The second thing she said was: “We all know that Fr. Michael is all about VACATIONS, VACATIONS, VACATIONS!”  At this point they brought out a beach chair for me to sit in, the kids put on sunglasses and flower leis, and began to roast me.  

It’s true… I love vacations, and I love traveling.  In fact this fall I’ll be leading a group on Pilgrimage to the Holy Lands (You can still sign up or find out more this Saturday 2pm at St. Joseph Social Hall).  Fr. Martello has also asked me to start a Mission Team here as well, so hopefully we will be traveling to El Salvador or Africa!  

But I have to admit I’m starting to grumble about traveling.  This is because of my good friends at the TSA (actually, one is a friend, shhh…) 

First of all, I’m very cheap so I will not pay for a checked bag.  That means I have to carry everything I’m taking in a carry-on.  (Soon it looks like it’s going to have to be in my backpack).  This means the inevitable lines at the x-rays, taking my shoes off, and usually because everything I need is in that bag… a bag inspection.  

I can’t tell you the number of things I’ve had confiscated and the part that angers me the most is “I know the rules”.  I know what I can bring, but it doesn't matter, I still have my things taken away.  Here’s my running list of stuff I’m allowed to have, but has been confiscated by a TSA agent: deodorant, AA batteries, empty water bottle, shaving razor, tweezers, nail clippers, sun-screen, candles, and a large bottle of contact solution.  All were regulation, all were permitted, but the agent either didn’t know the rules or “erred on the side of safety.”  

It infuriates me that it is such a degrading process to get through these security screenings.  It’s even worse when you get an agent that is just trying to throw a power trip.  And believe me being a priest doesn't help.  

But here’s what I’m forgetting when I get myself so worked up and mad…. I’m traveling to PARADISE.  

So really who cares if they take our razor away and we can’t shave?  Grow a beard on vacation.  No batteries?  Listen to the sound of nature.  Most of these things can be replaced or we can even go without them.  

In the Exodus “the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.”  They had it so good where they were and they entrusted themselves to Moses and Aaron and to God.  They didn’t have much time to pack or prepare for their trip; it was much longer than they had anticipated… can you imagine a 40 year layover!  They had to let go of a lot of the things that they had at home (really their fleshpots, which were loose morals and sexual escapades, and gluttonous eating… can you see why God wanted to get them away from there?).  They began grumbling and complaining because they forgot about the destination.  Moses was taking them to the Promised Land.  

I think the same can happen for us in life.  Often times God calls us out of our comfort zones.  In life, people and things are taken from us, sometimes even unfairly.  Sometimes “The Rules” aren’t followed and rightly or not we have to let go of people or things.  We too can begin “grumbling and complaining”.  Life can take a different direction, or we may have a delay or even a cancelation.  We may be rerouted from time to time… 

It’s then that we have to remember that this life is like a plane ride.  That’s all it is.  And we are going to PARADISE!  In heaven we will have everything and everyone that we need.  Jesus assures us that not only is He the way, but He is the destination.  

So the next time you find yourself grumbling… remember the destination. 
Are you being delayed right now in your life?  Is there something that is being taken from you?  Has someone you love been taken from you?  Is life taking you in a different course than you thought?  Are you being rerouted?  

Remember where you are traveling to.  This life is just a plane ride and we’re heading to PARADISE.  

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