Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

The eternal relay race of the life

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders …Joshua addressed all the people: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: In times past your fathers … dwelt beyond the River and served other gods. But I brought your father Abraham from the region beyond the River and led him through the entire land of Canaan. I made his descendants numerous, and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob … “Then I sent Moses … Afterward I led you out of Egypt, and when you reached the sea, the Egyptians pursued your fathers to the Red Sea with chariots and horsemen …upon whom he brought the sea so that it engulfed them … and dwelt a long time in the desert Once you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, but I delivered them also into your power …it was not your sword or your bow. “I gave you a land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built … Jos 24,1-13

The long march through the desert is over, Israel has crossed the river Jordan and arrived in the Promised Land. Moses, who guided that adventure for many years, has completed his mandate and now his body rests in peace on the Mount Nebo, in the land of Moab. Even Joshua, who replaced him in the guide, is about to end his service and he will soon rest in the territory of Timnah-Serah, on the mountains of Ephraim. It is the eternal relay race of the life, in which the characters follow one after the another, fulfill their mandate and then the Lord calls them to himself. In the today passage of Joshua, after having summoned the elders and the nobles of Israel, he speaks to the entire people in the name of the Lord. He remembers the call of Abraham, his passing of the baton to Isaac and from Isaac to Jacob. He remembers the four hundred years, during which the jewish people lived as slave of the Pharaoh in Egypt and how the Lord has liberated them by a powerful hand, drowning in the Red Sea the horses and the egyptians riders who pursued them. He remembers the battles which Israel had to face against many people during his wanderings in the desert. Israel won these battles because the Lord always fought by his side: “It was not your sword or your bow”. It happens often also to us to review our past history: the many engaged battles, the Lord who has always struggled for us and the Providence which, as to Israel during the forty years in the wilderness, has never lacked. We started when we were young and stalwart and now we are elderly and often a bit tired but happy with the heart, as the jewish pilgrim approaching Jerusalem for the feast of the Easter. He saw the city up there and he found the strengths for the last climb: “I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and heart” (Psa 120,1-2).

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