. . . Thus, after a long affliction, there was a revolution in Egypt. The people had been treated harshly. Their labors were hard, their pay like slave wages. Then, on the wing of an exterminating angel moving swiftly over the land, the oppression in Egypt crumbled. According to Exodus, it happened one night. According to our newer news, it happened in one fortnight of February 2011. Now, the whole world is astonished as Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, Libya, and even Iraq at last feel movements of the people against their oppressors. But it is too soon to guess what governance the people will secure in these lands. Trusting an ancient pattern, let us undertake to think more clearly about our times by returning to Israel’s central story of liberation in Egypt. . .
My study of history and anthropology and the Bible does not settle for me the question, whether there was a man named Jacob who fathered twelve sons who became each in turn father to a tribe secured within certain domains all contiguous and all honoring one God. I don’t know. Much tells against that simple tale, and heavy sands are blown across the pages of time. But of this we can be certain. In time, twelve tribes came to tell one story of their great fathers and mothers. In time, twelve tribes came by one name to praise and to fear God. Therefore, the telling of that one story is the irreducible fact with which we have to do. That telling—the willingness, the hope, the need to be bound together telling of God with one name only through one story—this is the mortar with which the Lord builds the house.
“Martha, Martha!” We must hear ourselves addressed. “You are worried and distracted by many things—but only one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen it. It will not be taken from her.” There is a priority in the two great loves. You might call it “soul service before social service.” Not: soul service more important than social service; just, soul service first, then social service, in a virtuous cycle, every round going higher, higher. Return to learn to love God with your all in all, and you will see your neighbor in ways ever-renewed . . .