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May 15, 2018

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Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Sixteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Exodus 15:1) repeats:  “Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.” How did

killing the Egyptians glorify God?

 

In Exodus 14:21 to 15:1, when the Israelites sang to God, “for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea,” we should not see God as the stereotype of some misguided (and fictional) military nut who seeks “glory” by killing people. On the contrary, the rabbis tell that when the Egyptian army was destroyed, the angels broke out in praise. Then they looked over and saw God weeping. Asked why, God replied, “The Egyptians are my children too!”

 

The point of the Exodus story is that God saves: “The Lord saved Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians.” God showed his power in opening a passage through the sea for his people. When the Egyptians tried to ride on God’s saving miracle to overtake and kill the Jews, God turned off the power and they died. We should never presume on God’s power to help us – or anyone — kill any of his children.

 

In Matthew 12: 46-50 Jesus tells us who God’s children are: “Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is brother and sister and mother to me.” Jesus ignores divisions of race, nationality, religious affiliation, and even “righteousness” judged by external behavior. Jesus accepts as family all those who, in their hearts at least, are trying to “do the will of the Father.” Who, then, would dare judge another —  even a terrorist suicide bomber or an American “special ops” assassin — on the deepest level of the heart? So like God weeping for the Egyptians, we weep over damage done to any of God’s children, not presuming to exclude anyone from the family. “Let us sing to the Lord.” It is through healing love, not violence, that “he has covered himself in glory.”

 

If God’s “glory” is the truth of God’s own being made evident, what reveals God’s glory more than the revelation of Jesus’ all-embracing love? And we, as his ministers, are called to continue this revelation. Through the ministry of expression — letting the divine gifts of faith, hope and love find visible expression in our bodily words and actions — we let the divine life, and above all the divine love, of Jesus continue to appear visibly on earth.

 

This is what the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass is all about: the celebration of Christ’s love, expressed on the cross, and drawing us into the same expression in the gift of ourselves to others.

 

But for this we have to “let the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus, who… did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.…” We need to renounce power, prestige and prejudice, and surrender to “be Christ” to all. What better time to commit ourselves to this than during the Eucharistic Prayer when Christ invites us to offer our bodies with his?[1]

 

Initiative: Be a priest. Let Jesus live and act with you, in you, through you.

 

 

 

 

[1] Philippians 2: 5-11.

[1] Philippians 2: 5-11.

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