16 July, 2013. Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week
(Also: Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)
Exod 2:1ff. Moses, reared at the Egyptian court, flees to the desert after killing an Egyptian.
Matt 11:20ff. Sodom was better than Galilean cities which refused faith in Jesus.
First Reading: Exodus 2:1-15
Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labour. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting; and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?” He answered, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses.
Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24
Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.”
Faith and Miracles
The gospel raises the question about the place and purpose of miracles. The people in those twin lakeside towns (Chorazin and Capernaum) in northwest Galilee witnessed many miracles but were unmoved by the message of Jesus. With prophetic anger he reproaches them with their failure to reform. His miracles were meant to lead to a change of outlook and of lifestyle, turning aside from selfishness and showing new concern for the poor and the sick. His healings of many people in need were an indicator of Jesus’ bond with humanity. His miracles were not intended to catapult him into prominence but to show God’s will for us all to form a happy, healthy family.
Many centuries before, after a period in exile Moses reappears before Pharaoh as a miracle worker who invokes the ten plagues (Exod chaps. 7-12), a section that is passed over in the liturgy. Given this tradition about Moses’ miraculous power, it is notable that he does not use this for his own self-promotion but had to flee for his life into the wilderness of Sinai. At his birth, Moses’ mother and sister had to resort to all kinds of ingenuity to save the infant’s life, for God did not miraculously intervene.
In his youth, Moses was prepared for his later vocation of bringing the slave people Israel out of their slavery. Already sensitive to any oppression or mistreatment of others, he could not stand by, uninvolved, on seeing an Egyptian striking a Hebrew. Nor could he tolerate the sight of a Hebrew man being beaten by another, but asked the culprit, ‘Why are you striking your brother?’ A passion for justice burned already in the young Moses, preparing him for his role as liberator in later years.