19 July, Tuesday of Week 16
Exod 14:21ff. The Egyptians who follow the Israelites into the sea are swallowed up by the waters, while God’s people are miraculously saved.
Matt 12:46ff. Jesus points to the crowd and says: “My brother and sister and mother- are those who do the will of my heavenly Father.
The Wider Family Circle
The Exodus text and the final prayer in Micah both tell of Israel’s liberation and journey towards the promised land; and each stresses Israel’s separateness from all other nations. Matthew, on the contrary, sees Jesus forming a new family of outsiders, based on “whoever does the will of my Father.” This qualification enables Christianity to form a chosen people from among all nations and races, with no exclusivity.
The Old Testament often seems restrictive and biased, yet we remember that unless we first rally together in a strong family bond, we will have little to share with others. Only a loving family can open its doors freely to neighbours and outsiders. Wisely, the Church has kept both Testaments, the Old and the New, to form its one Bible of God’s inspired word. The Hebrew Scriptures insist that God’s chosen people should exclude all oppression. Among them, all symbols of pride and greed and dominance must be cast to the bottom of the sea, as they sang “praise to the Lord, who has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”
Jesus opened the doors, heroically and at great cost even to his mother Mary. When his mother and brothers were seeking to speak with him, Jesus seems to pass them by. Extending his hands to the circle of his disciples, he said, “These are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is brother and sister and mother to me.”
First Reading: Exodus 14:21-15:1
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”
Gospel: Matthew 12:46-50
While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”