THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
TAKE THE LAND
Today’s reading: Numbers 13:1-14:35
God said to Israel: Go and take the land.
12 scouts sent to reconnoiter the land confirmed that the
land “does indeed flow with milk and honey” (Nm
13:27). But 10 of the 12 said the people in the land were
strong and that they could not overcome them, thereby discouraging
the Israelites. In fact, “the Israelites grumbled against
Moses and Aaron” (Nm 14:2a), desiring to return to Egypt,
and even “threatened to stone them.” (Nm 14:10a).
Because of their rebellion, grumbling and wickedness, God
punished them. They would “wander for forty years, suffering
for (their) infidelity, till the last of (them) lies dead
in the wilderness.” (Nm 14:33).
God tells His people to take the land, that is, to proclaim
salvation in Jesus and bring people back to Himself, to dispossess
the enemy and build God’s Kingdom on earth. Are they
doing it? Hardly. Though the harvest is abundant, the laborers
Catholics are afraid of the struggle and commitment needed
to take the land. They continually magnify their fears. The
Israelite scouts first said the inhabitants of the land were
“powerful,” then that they were “huge”
and so regarded them as giants, then that compared to them
they “seemed like mere grasshoppers” (Nm 13:33).
While there are indeed challenges to face and obstacles to
overcome, we must fear not, for God is with us, being the
one who sends us forth into battle. Caleb’s posture
is right: “We ought to go up and seize the land, for
we can certainly prevail over it.” (Nm 13:30).
Catholics do not grasp the vision for the mission. They easily
give up. They do not endure nor persevere. Like the Israelites,
they prefer Egypt to this new land flowing with milk and honey.
They would even go back to their old lives rather than move
ahead (Nm 14:4).
Catholics are ingrates, losing sight of what God has already
done for them in bringing them out of bondage, as the Israelites
from Egypt, and entering into covenant with them and offering
them the promised land. Faced with a lack of food in the desert,
they preferred to return to bondage in Egypt. Faced with a
strong enemy now, they preferred to die in the wilderness
of Paran (Nm 14:2).
Catholics are disobedient and lack trust in God. Despite all
the blessings and wonders they have already experienced, they
persist in their intransigence and hard-heartedness. “How
long will this people spurn me? How long will they not trust
me, despite all the signs I have performed among them?”
(Nm 14:11). Like the Israelites, they exasperate God. They
are a “people who have seen my glory and the signs I
did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and who nevertheless have
put me to the test ten times already and have not obeyed me.”
Catholics are grumblers. Instead on focusing on all the good
God does for them, they keep a narrow focus on what they do
not like in their lives or in their community or in the community’s
mission, and blame God if He does not change the situation.
They see wrong in every aspect of life. They grumble against
their leaders and against one another. “They spread
discouraging reports” (Nm 13:32a), thus bringing down
the spirits of those who are willing to go forth. They even
threaten revolt. Such grumbling is against God, who is the
one who sends us forth. “How long will this wicked community
grumble against me?” (Nm 14:27a).
Now the fight indeed will be intense, for “the people
who are living in the land are powerful, and the towns are
fortified and very large.” (Nm 13:28a). Our enemy indeed
is powerful. He is Satan. His earthly forces are powerful,
from the President of the USA to the European Union to the
United Nations to billionaire philanthropists to international
liberal media. In their eyes we seem like mere grasshoppers,
ready to be crushed. The towns and nations they dominate are
well fortified in their anti-faith, anti-family, anti-life,
pro-homosexualist defenses. Their dominion is very large,
from almost all of Europe to the western nations to growing
forces of dissent throughout the world. So what is to be our
response? “At this, the whole community broke out with
loud cries, and the people wept into the night.” (Nm
14:1). Do we just wring our hands and give up the fight? Hell,
we must not lose sight of the reality of our mission. It is
God who sends us, it is God who equips us, it is God who assures
us of the victory. Therefore we must not be afraid. “You
need not be afraid of the people of the land, for they are
but food for us! Their protection has left them, but the Lord
is with us. Do not fear them.” (Nm 13:9b).
we must be a faithful people, to God and to our covenant with
God. We need to be pure and pleasing instruments for God.
“If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us in
to this land and give it to us” (Nm 14:8).
we must simply obey. God is patient with us, but His patience
can run out, as He has work that needs to be done. “The
Lord is slow to anger and abounding in kindness, forgiving
iniquity and rebellion; yet certainly not declaring the guilty
guiltless, but punishing children to the third and fourth
generation for their parents’ iniquity.” (Nm 14:18).
The Israelites had to wander in the desert for 40 years.
The people of God today have been unfaithful. There are those
who prefer a life of slavery in the world rather than the
promised land flowing with milk and honey. There are those
who are disobedient to God’s commands and even rebel
against His directions. There are those who are paralyzed
into inaction by fear of suffering that comes with taking
we must be servants like Caleb. “But as for my servant
Caleb, because he has a different spirit and follows me unreservedly,
I will bring him into the land which he entered, and his descendants
shall possess it.” (Nm 14:24). We must have the spirit
of obedience, of total trust, of confidence in God’s
promises, of wholehearted giving of self, of joy in adversity.
must the people of God continue to wander in the desert, suffering
for their infidelities, and ending up dead in the wilderness
(Nm 14:33)? Slavery or freedom? The wilderness or the promised
land? Deprivation or abundance? Defeat or victory? It should
not be much of a choice.
sends us forth to bring in a bountiful harvest. This is the
call to the New Evangelization. May many more Catholics respond
to the call, and become laborers for the harvest. Go and take