Fourth Sunday of Lent

The ordinary and extraordinary providence

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”  While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth of the month. On the day after the Passover they ate of the produce of the land in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain. On that same day after the Passover on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. No longer was there manna for the Israelites, who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan. . Jos 5,9a.10-12

One day of some years ago I was answering via a local radio station to questions addressed by the listening persons on the subject of the providence, when Giuseppe Ravasio, a person familiar to me since long time, required to speak: “ It is true – Giuseppe said – really the providence exists. It is true that it exists! When I was young, my family was composed by my mother, a widow, and by eleven sons. Despite that my mother was working outside and she received also a little pension due to the postman work of my father before his death, quite often, by night time, we had nothing to eat. My mother, however, asked us to seat down at the table anyhow, to pray for the Lord taking care of it. Well! Something to eat always arrived. At a certain point, while we were praying, we were listening someone knocking to the door: it was always a person of the neighbors who, arriving with  a basket, required to share with us what they had prepared at their house. By some night more than one person offered it. So, with the help of the providence which, via our neighbors, reached us, we had grown up and we became adults. Later, when the seniors among us started to work, the providence started to be within our family not anymore by extraordinary ways, but by the ordinary way of the salaries. Later on, when remembering those past years, before starting our food, we continued to thank the Lord because he never abandoned us”. Entering in the today passage, the same thing happened to the Israelites at Galgata, where Joshua, who succeeded to Moses, has established his headquarters. After having lived the nomadic way of life for decades, the Israelites devoted themselves to the agriculture and they were consequently able to be fed by the products of the land, so that the Lord did not send them anymore the manna which everyday joined them when they were continuously moving along the desert.: “The Israelites had not manna any more: they ate the fruits of the Canaan land”. This passage of the Holy Scriptures and the story which that day Giuseppe narrated, made us pondering on the miracle of the providence, which materializes by ordinary and extraordinary routes. Mainly we have been made aware that the daily bread can arrive also from the sky, as it happened to the Israelites in the desert, but more often via the generosity of the persons which becomes the instrument of the providence. Or we have it as the fruit of our work. Give us, Lord, the humility to ask for every day the daily bread, the activity to earn it and the generosity to share it with the persons who need it.

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