The Two Rocks

Thursday of the 18th Week in Ordinary Time

Num 20: 1-13; Mt 16: 13-23

Dc. Larry Brockman

Two Rocks- that’s what today’s scriptures are about.

Now I am certain that most of you have heard the first reading many times and wondered at its meaning.  Just how did the Moses and the Israelis test the Lord and His sanctity?  Well, first notice that the Isaraelis grumbled to themselves over lack of water, not trusting in the Lord.  So they went to Moses and Aaron to complain.  Moses and Aaron, feeling faint of heart themselves, appeal to the Lord for help.  All of that demonstrates lack of faith and trust.  But the Lord tells Moses to take his famous staff out of the Ark where it was kept.  He was then to assemble the people and in their presence, order water to flow out of the rock.  Now the staff symbolized the power and sanctity of the Lord.  When Moses just held the staff, great things happened- like the parting of the Red Sea and victory in battle.  So, Moses was supposed to just hold it, not strike the rock.  That should have brought it all back to the Israelis- that this staff symbolized the power of an invincible God; it should have renewed their faith.  But as you can see, Moses spoke tentatively and impatiently in the presence of the people at the rock- not with faith, and so not with authority he was given.  And yet, despite their lack of faith and mistrust, God in his goodness caused water to gush from the rock.  Because Moses did not handle the situation properly, he and Aaron were punished.

In the Gospel, Jesus is asking a central question of faith.  Have his disciples, by this time in his ministry to them, been moved in their hearts to know who he really is?   Do they believe, do they have faith in him?  Some dance around the issue, saying he is a prophet.  But Simon Peter comes up with the answer Jesus is looking for- that Jesus is the Messiah.  And so Jesus renames Simon to Peter, which means Rock and says that on that Rock he will build his Church.  Indeed, Peter went out and Baptized and spread the Gospel.  Peter had faith and acted on it despite many trials and tribulations and that’s how the Church was built.

Every day of our lives, we are confronted with challenges that test our faith.  Sometimes we feel like we are in the desert, and don’t know where to turn.  So we cry out to God like the Israelis did.  And in the midst of that challenge, it is like God is asking us first if we know who He is.  Do we act tentatively and without trust as Moses and some of the Apostles did, or do we speak out with confidence as Peter did?

Real Faith is a strong conviction that we know that Jesus is real; He did save us; He is in that Eucharist.  There is no doubt in real faith.  We need only hold the staff- we don’t have to strike the rock with it, let alone strike the rock twice.  Rather if we really believe in our hearts, we know that our prayer will be answered.  It may be that it is like water gushing from a rock, rather than a green fertile valley along a wide stream.  In other words, our answer may not be the vision we had in mind, but one way or another, our prayer will be answered.

It’s time we tried it, don’t you think?  So, if today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.


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