Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Ex 14:21-15:1; Ex 15:8-10,12,17; Mt 12:46-50

“Then the LORD told Moses, ‘Stretch out you hand’.”

Both the Prophet Moses and the Lord Jesus stretch out their hands.  Moses is commanded by the Lord God to stretch out his hand, and the sea returned to its normal depth.  Again the first reading and the response to the first reading are taken from the book of Exodus.  The Scriptures present this saving event from every possible “camera angle.”  The Word of God does not exhaust the mystery of the Lord stretching out his almighty hand and Moses stretching out his pleading hand.  Indeed, Moses intercedes and God, the LORD, fights for the escaped and trapped slaves.  The enemy boasted; they wasted their breath saying, “I will pursue and overtake them…my hand shall despoil them!”  The Lord breathes and the sea covered the braggarts; He stretched out his hand and the earth swallowed them up.  Moses and the children of Israel sing for joy and their song is still on the lips of all who have been rescued, redeemed, and restored.  The Lord Jesus, too, stretched out his hand toward his disciples to reveal the New Israel.  This New Moses stretched out his hand, in the power of the Father, to display his disciples as his new family.  We are that new family, that New Israel, and Jesus Christ is our New Moses, the cause of our joy and our jubilation.  The song is sung here as it was on the banks of the Red Sea.

The great reversals of Exodus invite us to look closely at the great reversals in our own exodus.  Moses stretched out his hand and the LORD swept the sea with a strong east wind.  In obedience to the command of the Lord, Moses reaches out his hand with his staff and pleads with the creator of the wind and the sea.  Moses has no power; the Lord God is almighty.  Moses is a fellow slave among a crowd of slaves and, he is powerless to convince the slave master to “let my people go!”  The Creator of human breath and nature’s breath commands the sea to form two walls and dry land for his people to Passover into freedom.  The children of Israel marched into the midst of the sea on dry land, and the furious armies of Pharaoh were hurled into the midst of the sea and it swallowed them.  The hand of Moses stretched out in response to God’s command reveals the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, inspiring his servant and changing human history.  Egypt had all the resources of war, chariots and charioteers, and the children of Israel had no weapons and no means of self-defense.  The powerful verses the powerless; a story repeated throughout history.  Yet, this time the end is quite different.  However, the contrast most important is found in this line: “they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant Moses.”  The children of Israel, upon seeing Pharaoh and his war machine, cried out in fear, cursing Moses and the God who had inspired him to lead the slaves from oppression in Egypt.  They had a victory dance on the shore of the sea and sang songs for the Lord is gloriously triumphant.  We, too, catch a glimpse of the glory and join together in praise.  How long does our attention rest on God’s victory?  When is the next moment of doubt, complaint, or murmuring?  Perhaps exodus must happen again and again.

History and tradition are also set-aside in today’s gospel passage.  The Lord Jesus redefines relationship.  All human relationships are new in Christ.  Now, we are to relate to everyone in Christ, with Christ, through Christ.  This radical transformation makes us free to love everyone just as we love Christ.  It is our radical obedience to the will of our heavenly Father that makes us one with our new brothers, sisters, and mothers.  Because we renew our discipleship here at the Eucharist, we are sent out as a new family of faith to love and serve the Lord.