“Don’t Play Ball in the House”, By Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

My uncles used to love throwing a ball around while sitting on the couches in my grandparents’ living room.  Actually, they still do on occasion.  Once when I was a little, we were all throwing a tennis ball around, and, all of a sudden, crash!  Down came the fancy Lenox plate off the shelf.  One of my uncles, as the representative of our group, went into the other room to tell my grandmother about it.  It sure was nice not having to be the one delivering that news.

In high school, I was working on a group video project for my literature class.  We put a lot of work into this video project, and one of our group members had the job of editing.  We saw her in school one day with a deer-in-the-headlights look – it turned out the files had gotten corrupted somehow, and we wouldn’t be able to complete the video.  Even though it wasn’t her fault, she went and negotiated with the teacher to grade our project based on our plans and descriptions of what we filmed, rather than the final project.  In both of those stories, someone else interceded on my behalf, in going to the person “in charge” and asking that they be merciful. 

In the First Reading this week, we see a similar story, though without the tennis ball or the error message.  Moses, as he often did, went to God on behalf of the people.  He pleads with God that God would have mercy on them and pardon their wickedness and sins, and cites their stubbornness, calling them a “stiff-necked people”.  Yet he also includes himself in the group, praying “receive us as your own”. 

It’s not often easy to be the representative on behalf of a group, especially when asking for mercy or leniency.  We may even be able to point to times in our own lives when people have interceded to God on our behalf for mercy; but how often do we approach God in that role?

We can approach God on behalf of our friend group, asking for forgiveness for the less-than-mature decisions we might have made over a given weekend.  We can approach him on behalf of our family, asking for mercy for the times when other events knocked Sunday Mass off the priority list.  And in this time of unrest in our country, we can go to God on behalf of the people, as Moses did, asking for mercy and that he might bring his peace and healing, especially to all those who are “stiff-necked” in one way or another.

And more so than my uncle, more so than my fellow group member, and more so even than Moses, Jesus is the ultimate mediator between God and man.  He prays, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Let Jesus be an example for us, as we pray on behalf of those who desperately need God’s mercy (ourselves very much included).

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