Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Book of Exodus 12:37-42, Psalm 136:1, 23-24, 10-12, 13-15, & Matthew 12:14-21
Friends, it occurred to me that if today's readings were offered to someone utterly unfamiliar with scripture as an introduction to God the Father and Jesus Christ, they would most likely be confused.
The Israelites Crossing of the Red Sea by Wilhelm Kotarbiński
The Book of Exodus refers to the Israelites waiting 430 years for the Lord's return. The vigil ends with their being "driven out of Egypt" with little in the way of material support. In Psalm 136, we see and feel the fierce protective power of the Lord over the Israelites at the expense of Pharaoh. Although God rescued His chosen people, He struck down Egypt's firstborn, parted the Red Sea, and destroyed Pharaoh's army.
The Gospel narrative of Saint Matthew shows a very different side of this God. Although the enemy is still in pursuit, the response is very different. Jesus keeps a much lower profile than does the God of the Israelites, who openly provoked Pharaoh. When the Pharisees begin to close in, Jesus "departs." Rather than inciting the enemy, "He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets." Matthew continues, "Many crowds follow Him, and He cured all of them, and He ordered them not to make Him known."
Is this the same God who unmercifully provoked the Egyptians? What then is the difference? Why is Jesus a calmer, gentler God?
I believe the answer lies in the Spirit. "Here is my servant, (Jesus) whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the Gentiles." Jesus, although fully God, was also fully human. Having two distinct natures at once, He experienced fears, joys, love, and sorrows as we all experience. The difference is that Jesus was intimately aware of the Spirit within Him and chose to respond in love to that Spirit. He responded in love, not only to His followers but also to His enemies. He chose to cure rather than to destroy. Our Lord always responds out of Love for the Father, and so should we.
Question of the Day: Like the Lord Jesus, can you place your trust in the Holy Spirit as you continue to your life's journey?
Prayer: "Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good. For His mercy endures forever." (Psalm 136)