[Also Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Foundation Day of the Claretians Missionaries – July 16, 1849). Pray for them!]
True Conversion: Sign of God’s Presence
Moses had to be saved from the waters so that he could share the same experience as his people when they were to be saved by passing through the waters.
The poor and the oppressed are often more open to salvation than the self-satisfied, sophisticated city dwellers. The latter are often in the Bible given the image of rationalistic and corrupt people, also among the Jews. As they are more individualistic, they do not easily form a community of salvation. In the noise and bustle of a busy life, they do not see the signs of God’s presence.
1 Reading: Exodus 2:1-15a
A certain man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, who conceived and bore a son. Seeing that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket, daubed it with bitumen and pitch, and putting the child in it, placed it among the reeds on the river bank. His sister stationed herself at a distance to find out what would happen to him. Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her maids walked along the river bank. Noticing the basket among the reeds, she sent her handmaid to fetch it. On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying! She was moved with pity for him and said, “It is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” “Yes, do so,” she answered. So the maiden went and called the child’s own mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will repay you.” The woman therefore took the child and nursed it. When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son and called him Moses; for she said, “I drew him out of the water.” On one occasion, after Moses had grown up, when he visited his kinsmen and witnessed their forced labour, he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own kinsmen. Looking about and seeing no one, he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out again, and now two Hebrews were fighting! So he asked the culprit, “Why are you striking your fellow Hebrew?” But the culprit replied, “Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses became afraid and thought, “The affair must certainly be known.” Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put Moses to death. But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 69:3, 14, 30-31, 33-34
R. (see 33) Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
I am sunk in the abysmal swamp
where there is no foothold;
I have reached the watery depths;
the flood overwhelms me. R.
But I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help. R.
But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me;
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving. R.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.” R.
Alleluia: Psalm 95:8
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24
Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld. For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
Exodus gives a popular explanation for the name of Moses by relating it to the account of the child’s discovery by Pharaoh’s daughter and his being taken out of the water. Not strict etymology but not bad catechesis!
It is interesting to note how often water in the scriptures becomes a symbol of baptism. It is true of the Noah story, the Red Sea crossing, and the Israelites crossing the Jordan. It is always a question of a deliverance through water. The Moses story lends itself to such symbolism.
Moses is first and foremost a Hebrew. When he comes upon a fight between an Egyptian and a Hebrew, he unhesitatingly kills the Egyptian. When he later learns the homicide has become known, he flees to Midian.
Jesus today speaks of the imminence of judgment. Clear signs of the final age in the person of Jesus had been given, but still there was hardness of heart. Who can honestly say that the opportunity to turn from a life of sin to God is not given? But how often do we pass up the chances he offers us! Even, we, often than not, make mockery of preachers and people amongst us who try to be holy. Let us always respond to the voice of the Lord.
Repent. Perhaps we think that these words of the Lord do not apply to us. If we are open-minded, we will probably notice that there are many things in us that we wish to change. Perfection is not of this world but we must be seen moving resolutely towards it. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!