Do not forget the works of the Lord (Responsorial Psalm, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross).
Psalm 78 is one of the “historical” psalms. It is introduced by a wisdom saying or proverb followed by two stanzas. The first stanza details all that God did for Israel before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land while the second stanza narrates God’s actions for Israel after the crossing. The psalm is used as a response to the story told in the Book of Numbers of the fiery (seraph) serpents which bit the Israelites after they complained or to Moses and to God about the food which they had been given. It is obvious that the people HAD forgotten the works of the Lord.
There are basically two kinds of complaining. Sometimes complaints are justified. If we buy something that does not work or which breaks down almost immediately, our complaint is understandable. However, the Israelites first complained that they were hungry. When God fed them, like spoiled children they continued to complain because they did not like the food they had been given. Clearly their complaint is not justified. They have forgotten what God has done for them. In their forgetfulness is their sin.
Remembering is demanded of the Israelites in the desert. It is also demanded of us. When we remember the lengths to which God went in setting into motion a plan for our salvation, when we remember that God sent his only begotten Son into our midst, when we remember how he gave himself up to death on a cross for our sake, when we remember that God has provided us with a lasting memorial by which we are fed, we make those actions present in our own lives so that we can participate in them just as surely as the ancient Israelites participated in the exodus from Egypt and the early Christians witnessed the redemptive death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
Whenever we gather around the table of the Lord, we do so to remember what Jesus has done for us. “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again” (Eucharistic Acclamation). Our act of remembering makes Jesus present in our midst again. We remember, we celebrate, we believe.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator