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Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Sunday, July 23, 2017

 

Ex 14:5-18; Ex 15:1-6; Mt 12:38-42
“Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.”

The Lord is gloriously triumphant in the liberation given to the slaves in Egypt. The Lord has become the strength and courage of all who are enslaved in every time and place. We can join in the jubilation because the Lord has been our savior. “He is my God, I praise him; the God of my father, I extol him.” The Pharaoh and his servants changed their minds about letting the people go into the desert to offer a sacrifice, and even God’s people are having second thoughts about Moses and his promise of freedom. This new threat from Pharaoh and this hesitation among his people does not change God’s mind. The Lord is a mighty warrior, and his right hand shatters the enemy! Anyone who oppresses his people will sink into the depths like a stone. The Lord Jesus encounters a similar attitude among the hesitant scribes and Pharisees. They demand a sign, an irrefutable sign that he is greater than Jonah or Solomon. The Divine Teacher instructs his hostile audience with the truth that he is the fulfillment of the prophetic and the wisdom traditions that they claim to know and teach. Do we still hesitate? Is the liberation Christ offers still too much to believe so many generations later?

The Liberating God of Israel covers himself in glory even as he covers the hoards of Egypt with the waters of the sea. The People of God may have rushed out of Egypt, but their hearts are slow to follow. At the very edge of freedom the people hesitate. Now look what you’ve done they complain. The Pharaoh and his armies have changed their minds and we are caught here between the land and the sea. There is no escape. We had it better as slaves in Egypt. Now we are going to die in this desert. There is no freedom. Your great promise is a lie. Such were the complaints of the people upon seeing their angry oppressors coming after them with a whole army, horses, chariots and charioteers. Moses responds with more promises, “Fear not! Stand your ground and you will see the victory of the LORD…you have only to keep still.” Moses has faith, but it is not yet full of glory. The Lord commands him to do more than make promises. The Lord commands him to fulfill his promise. Stand strong and lift your staff and provide for my people a way through the sea. Give them dry land; give them a way to freedom through the very sea that threatens their existence. Then all people will see my glory. Then even the oppressors will know that I am the LORD. “Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power, your right hand, O LORD, has shattered the enemy.”

Those in power were wavering in their condemnation of the Lord Jesus. They only needed a sign; then they would change their minds. The Lord refused to play their game. “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.” No matter what sign is given; it must be received in faith, or it has no power to save. The opposition that Jesus faced was more hostile than that which Moses faced. They had heard his promise of abundant life and seen his many miracles, and still they were obstinate. All that remained was the sign of resurrection after three days in the heart of the earth. Even the pagans of Nineveh and of the south were willing to hear the good news of liberation. Why do they hesitate? Why do we hesitate? Have we not passed through the sea on dry land through our baptism? Have we not seen the signs and wonders of the Eucharist? What will it take before we accept our liberation from slavery to sin and evil? Perhaps this celebration of the Eucharist will be the sign we finally accept. Perhaps we will be covered in glory, and the world will come to know the LORD and his New Moses, Jesus the Christ.

 

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