During this time of summer, we are fortunate to hear the story of Moses and the Exodus. We also had the great feast of St. Mary Magdalene on July 22. I mention these two together because I heard something interesting recently about the Exodus, and I just love celebrating the feast of Mary Magdalene. I’m also reminded of my good friend Fr. Conrad Pecevich who would always come up with a creative and faith-filled way to celebrate Mary Magdalene and the role of women in the Church.
Now back on track! The piece I heard about Exodus spoke of the Israelites’ freedom from the slavery of Pharaoh. The point being, once they were free and lead out of Egypt, they had only experienced an external freedom, not an internal freedom. Thus, there was grumbling and complaining to Moses and God! Their external freedom was complete, but they did not experience an internal freedom which would have helped them trust in God’s care and concern for them. They couldn’t see how God’s gifts were with them while in the desert.
I couldn’t help but think of Mary Magdalene who also was freed. The difference with her, perhaps, was the fact that her external freedom led to a gratitude that continually changed her heart. That change helped her internal freedom continue to grow. Growth is part and parcel of change. Without change, we become bound, and our freedom is lost. We become a slave to our misperceptions and negative attitudes, as were the Israelites.
Have you ever had freedom from an external situation but failed to recognize its gifts? Were you eventually able to develop the inner freedom necessary for total conversion and growth? Internal growth can be a challenge but so worth the effort. True freedom requires more than just externally moving from one place to another; it also requires the soil of a grateful heart. As Gail Sheehy has said “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” And I would add: If we don’t change and grow, we are not really free!
So, we can be like the partially free Israelites or the full of life Mary Magdalene. The choice is ours. The object is not to be discouraged but to continue to grow each day and accept the changes that may come our way leading us to total freedom.
Have a great week,