Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Unexpected leaders/heroes

     For the last few weeks in our daily Mass readings we have heard the story of two individuals that lived different lives generations apart, yet were destined by God to be great leaders and unexpected heroes to their people.

     The first was a young man, the last of many sons, who was the apple of his Father's eye.  He was a shepherd like his brothers, but because of his father's affection for him, his brothers were angry and jealous.  They even plotted to kill him, but then changed their minds and sold him into slavery.  He ended up in Egypt and unexpectedly a slave in Pharaoh's court.  God had a watchful eye on him.  His name was Joseph.

     He came to the attention of Pharaoh, and with blessing and insight given him by God he saw an impending worldwide famine. Pharaoh placed him in charge of the preparations for these hard times.  Thus Egypt had plenty, while most of the world starved.  Joseph was given responsibility to share the bounty.

     Along comes his family to seek help.  They come to Pharaoh's steward, whom they have no clue is their brother.  He recognizes them, but keeps it a secret until at last he reveals that "I am Joseph, your brother".  He welcomes his family, reunites and forgives their envy and treachery, and invites them to Egypt where he places them in the most prosperous Nile delta in the land of Goshen, and they prosper.  Joseph, God's chosen and anointed, Egypt's leader and his family's hero, takes center stage and becomes an unexpected leader/hero.

     From Israel's descendants comes another unexpected leader/hero whose name is Moses.  Born in a time of hardship and dread for his people, his very survival is secured through treachery.  Set adrift in a reed basket to save his life, he is found by Pharaoh's daughter and raised as her own.  Even as a foreigner, he is accorded rank and privilege in Court.  He is blessed by God with a role of leadership but through an identity crisis and series of events finds himself out on his rear and fearing for his life.

     He leaves what he knows, becomes a shepherd of flocks, and encounters a God in a fiery bush that would not give up on him.  He becomes a spokesperson for his people, once again in the Court of Pharaoh, but this time as the voice of God, a voice of challenge, sharing a call for freedom, and meeting hostility on all sides except God's. 

     We know the story ... we know the exodus ... we know the struggle of the reborn People of God ... and we see a man, touched by the hand of God, who becomes an unexpected leader and hero of another sort.

     What does this say to us?  Maybe this - that God works with what he has, that his ways are marvelously mysterious, and that he provides the moment with his blessings, even if it comes through unexpected leader/heroes.

     Your Prayers Requested
     I attended the funeral Mass for Mrs. Margaret Berkey at Saint Rose Parish in Latrobe.  Mrs. Berkey is the mother of one of our priests - Father Bill Berkey.  Many family and friends were there, along with about thirty-five of Bill's brother priests and Bishop Brandt.  May she rest in peace.
     Father Bill presided and preached, and provided a wonderful send off for his Mom.  Having done that for both of my parents, I can  attest that it is not easy.  I'm sure Bill's Mom was very proud of her son.
     Father Bill is the new pastor (since June 25th) of the new parish of Saint Francis of Assisi in Western Fayette County - a monumental task of pulling together six parish communities into one.  Maybe he is one of those unexpected leader/heroes for that community at this moment in time.  Say an extra prayer for him in the days ahead.  Thanks.

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