Yesterday, at Mass, as Padre German briefly noted how the serpents bite and kill those who were complaining, I began to think again about something that has been bothering me.
The people complaining in the desert are bitten by serpents and die. I wonder if what really killed them was not the snake bite but the complaining.
Complaining opens up a part of ourselves that gets filled with resentment, with anger, and – at times – fear.
This week I was at a deanery educational day on Laudato Si’. There was a lot of critiquing the environmental situation, which is disastrous here. But it seemed like complaining, just looking at what’s bad, what’s not right.
Yes, we should denounce injustice and evil. But I don’t think this should be our starting point or we will turn ourselves into self-righteous complainers.
I see this in a lot of posts on Facebook and it saddens me.
Where should we start?
With wonder, remembering the love of God manifested to us and recalling the small ways, the details, where God’s love is shown in the lives of God’s people.
Without that vision, we can get lost in despair, in hopelessness, in fatalism. We can become, in Spiro Agnew’s words, “nattering nabobs of negativity.”
But we have a vision – the vision of the peaceful kingdom of Isaiah, the vision of Jesus who came as Good News for the Poor.
In the midst of the bad news, we need to BE good news.
Yes, we must denounce injustice. We must expose the lies and the cover ups. But if that’s all we say and if that’s where we start, I fear that we will find ourselves overwhelmed.
But if we remember the marvels of God – with wonder at the beauty of creation, with gratitude for the holiness of those around us, with hope in Jesus who died and rise – I think we may become better channels of God’s love and justice for a world in need.