Tormented by thirst, the people complained against Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt?’ they said. ‘Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’
Moses appealed to the Lord. ‘How am I to deal with this people?” he said. ‘A little more and they will stone me!’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take with you some of the elders of Israel and move on to the forefront of the people; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the river, and go. I shall be standing before you there on the rock, at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will flow from it for the people to drink.’ This is what Moses did, in the sight of the elders of Israel. The place was named Massah and Meribah because of the grumbling of the sons of Israel and because they put the Lord to the test by saying, ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’
Israel is judged as lacking in faith as it thirsts and murmurs in the wilderness- but its need is real and urgent.Israel fails to trust in God, or maybe just fails to ask God for what it needs – turning instead on Moses and rejecting the value of the first gifts of freedom received from God.
Thirst and the quenching of thirst remains a potent symbol in the scriptures for the relationship with God to whch we are all called and to which God is true. – and which is evidenced in the Gospel Reading accompanying the above first reading on the 3rd Sunday of Lent.
- Of what do you lack and for what do you thirst?
- How do you present your need to God?
- How does God respond? And why?
Flowers and water at the National Gallery, Washington, USA. (c) 2007, Allen Morris