Prayer and Meditation for Monday, July 24, 2017 — “We wish to see a sign from you.” — Moses answered the people, “Fear not! Stand your ground!”

Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 395

Image result for Pharaoh's whole army his horses chariots and charioteers, bible, art, pictures

Reading 1 EX 14:5-18

When it was reported to the king of Egypt
that the people had fled,
Pharaoh and his servants changed their minds about them.
They exclaimed, “What have we done!
Why, we have released Israel from our service!”
So Pharaoh made his chariots ready and mustered his soldiers
six hundred first-class chariots
and all the other chariots of Egypt, with warriors on them all.
So obstinate had the LORD made Pharaoh
that he pursued the children of Israel
even while they were marching away in triumph.
The Egyptians, then, pursued them;
Pharaoh’s whole army, his horses, chariots and charioteers,
caught up with them as they lay encamped by the sea,
at Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

Pharaoh was already near when the children of Israel looked up
and saw that the Egyptians were on the march in pursuit of them.
In great fright they cried out to the LORD.
And they complained to Moses,
“Were there no burial places in Egypt
that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert?
Why did you do this to us?
Why did you bring us out of Egypt?
Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said,
‘Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians’?
Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians
than to die in the desert.”
But Moses answered the people,
“Fear not! Stand your ground,
and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today.
These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.
The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the children of Israel to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the children of Israel may pass through it on dry land.
But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.
Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers.”

Responsorial Psalm  EX 15:1BC-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (1b) Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
He is my God, I praise him;
the God of my father, I extol him.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
The LORD is a warrior,
LORD is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
The flood waters covered them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power,
your right hand, O LORD, has shattered the enemy.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

Alleluia  PS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 12:38-42

Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
He said to them in reply,
“An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign,
but no sign will be given it
except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,
so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth
three days and three nights.
At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;
and there is something greater than Jonah here.
At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon;
and there is something greater than Solomon here.”

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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24 JULY, 2017, Monday, 16th Week, Ordinary Time

FAITH OVERCOMES FEAR AND DOUBT

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Ex 14:5-18Ex 15:1-6Mt 12:38-42]

We live our lives in fear.  It is natural to fear for our safety and our needs.  We all have an instinct for survival.  We fear pain, suffering and death.  So in the face of danger, we panic.  When we become anxious and frightened, we become irrational and say or do things without thinking.  This was the case of the Israelites.  We can imagine their fears.  Hence, they began to complain and lament.  “Were there no grave in Egypt that you must lead us out to die in the wilderness?  What good have you done us, bringing us out of Egypt? We spoke of this in Egypt, did we not? Leave us alone, we said, we would rather work for the Egyptians! Better to work for the Egyptians than die in the wilderness!”  They started to blame Moses and accuse him of leading them to their death.  They even preferred to live in slavery than to suffer in the desert or die in the hands of the Egyptians.

In our straits, we tend to forget all the great things that happened to us before.  How true, in bad times, we forget the good times.  Even in friendship, when there is a misunderstanding, we forget all the other good times we have had.  We cannot forgive the person for the one mistake he has made when he had done many good things for us.  We just pick on the fault, disregarding all the good the person has done.  This is also true in times of adversity.  We begin to doubt His love for us when we are going through difficult times or trials in life.  In good times, we praise and thank God for His love but in bad times, we forget all His blessings.

Fear drives us to hopelessness. But doubt will cause us to be unresponsive.  This was the situation of the scribes and the Pharisees.  They had doubts about Jesus as the Messiah.  “Master, we should like to see a sign from you.”  Again, this request was not unreasonable.  It is necessary that there be signs for credibility before we commit ourselves to belief.  All throughout the scriptures, a true prophet must be able to give signs that his prophecy is from God.  So it was not wrong for them to ask Jesus for a sign that they should believe in Him.

Perhaps, we must ask whether our doubts come from the sincere desire to know the truth or from pride or obstinacy.  This too was the obstinacy of Pharaoh.  “When Pharaoh, king of Egypt, was told that the Israelites had made their escape, he and his courtiers changed their minds about the people. ‘What have we done,’ they said ‘allowing Israel to leave our service?’ So Pharaoh had his chariots in Egypt, each manned by a picked team.  The Lord made Pharaoh, king of Egypt, stubborn, and he gave chase to the sons of Israel as they made their triumphant escape.” He saw the miracles worked by Moses.  He relented and let them go but his pride and ego was hurt.  He could not accept defeat.  So he changed his mind about letting the Israelites go.

God is not against us seeking signs because the act of faith must be responsible. When Jesus remarked, “It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign!”  He was not reprimanding the people for seeking a sign but for their refusal to be receptive and open to the signs that He had given. The religious leaders were not asking for signs for verification but signs to disprove the claims of Jesus.  They came with a closed mind.  They lacked openness, sincerity to find the truth.  Their minds were already made up.

Even in the case of Moses when he demanded faith from the people, he had already given them some signs.  He worked the miracles of the Ten plagues.  But the greatest of all signs was yet to come.  It was the crossing of the Red Sea. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me so? Tell the sons of Israel to march on.  For yourself, raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and part it for the sons of Israel to walk through the sea on dry ground.  I for my part will make the heart of the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow them.  So shall I win myself glory at the expense of Pharaoh, of all his army, his chariots, his horseman.  And when I have won glory for myself, at the expense of Pharaoh and his chariots and his army, the Egyptians will learn that I am the Lord.’”

Jesus too, as the New Moses, had given them signs through His miracles of healing and exorcism.  He had showed them the love and mercy of God.  He is the wisdom of God in person.  “On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.”  In other words, He is the true prophet of God.

But the greatest of all signs will be His passion, death and resurrection.  This was already anticipated in the Exodus experience. But it is also given in the sign of Jonah.  “For as Jonah was in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.  On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with the generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.” In His passion and resurrection, He is vindicated by the Father as His Son.

So the Lord is not asking us to make an irrational act of faith. The signs have been given.  Now we must make an act of faith to see the fullness of the power of God.  This was what was asked of the Israelites.  “Have no fear! Stand firm, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you to-day: the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again.  The Lord will do the fighting for you: you have only to keep still.” And God showed His power and fidelity.  Thus the people sang for joy. “I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph! Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea! The Lord is my strength, my song, my salvation. This is my God and I extol him, my father’s God and I give him praise. The Lord is a warrior! ‘The Lord’ is his name. The chariots of Pharaoh he hurled into the sea, the flower of his army is drowned in the sea.”

So too by His death and resurrection, Jesus shows forth His glory as He leads us through the waters of baptism, from death to sin and new life in His spirit.   Jesus shows Himself to be the New Moses by His preaching and feeding us with the bread of life.  He conquered sin and death by His victory in the resurrection.  So we are called to have faith in Jesus on account of the resurrection.

What about us?  We have seen all the signs. We have seen how Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets.  We have seen how the apostles witnessed to His resurrection by signs and powers, of healing and exorcism, and most of all the testimony of life, even unto death.  We continue to see His mighty works even in our days.  We see the miracles of the sacraments which bring about effects in our lives.  Hence, we do not live in fear or doubt but in faith in Christ our Saviour. Our faith in Christ is real and well substantiated.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Commentary on Matthew 12:38-42 From Living Space

Today’s passage follows two others, which we have not read. In the first Jesus is accused of doing what he does by the power of Satan. An accusation which he easily shows is self-contradictory and makes no sense. In the second he says that a tree that is rotten inside cannot produce good fruit. Goodness comes from a person’s interior. The words are directed at his accusers whom he more than once accuses of being hypocrites: pious and law-abiding on the outside and full of malice inside.

It is these same people who approach him today. It is difficult to know their mood as they ask Jesus for a sign. Is it a genuine request for Jesus to indicate the source of his authority and power or is it a hostile demand for Jesus to present his credentials?

In response, Jesus first says that “it is an evil and unfaithful (literally, ‘adulterous’) generation that asks for a sign”. Yes, evil and unfaithful, because for anyone with an open mind, Jesus has been giving nothing but signs ever since he began his public life. The ordinary people have been full of praise and amazement at what Jesus is doing and say that “God has visited his people”. But these leaders, blinded by their own prejudice, are even saying that the teaching, exorcisms and healings of Jesus are the work of Satan.

In addition to all this they are going to get an unmistakable sign of who Jesus really is. They will be given the “sign of Jonah”. Just as Jonah spent three days buried in the belly of the sea monster so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and nights. This is a clear reference to Jesus’ resurrection – the conclusive sign of his identity and power.

Mention of Jonah leads Jesus to say that the people of Niniveh who repented after hearing Jonah will fare better at the last judgment than the people that Jesus is speaking with. And Jesus is of far more significance than Jonah.

Similarly, the Queen of the South, that is, the Queen of Sheba, who came from a far distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon will fare better than the unbelieving listeners to Jesus, who is greater by far than Solomon.

We, too, have the privilege of listening to Jesus and we know the sign of his resurrection. Is it not possible that there are many people around us who, not knowing Jesus but following the guidance of their consciences, will find themselves going before us into the Kingdom? Complacency is probably one of our biggest temptations. “I am good enough; I observe the basic requirements of my religion.” Is that all that Jesus expects of me?

Related:

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Reflection on Exodus 14:5-18

Remember: Sanctification is the idea of being set-apart for God. To be pursue holiness as He is holy.

Context: Before we get too far, lets just remember what the scene is here at this point in Exodus:

The people have been in bondage in Egypt for over 400 years.

This bondage was preceded by a season in which Joseph held a high position in Egypt because of his ability to interpret the dreams that the Pharaoh was having. He instructed that there was going to be a big famine and that Egypt should prepare. As a result, the Pharaoh put him as 2nd in command. Israel benefitted from this because this preparation would preserve them during this famine.

Over time the Egyptian dynasty changed, and turned on Israel by putting them into bondage.

Finally, Moses was born. He was to be thrown into the Nile, but instead was adopted into the Egyptian household.

Long story short, Moses was called by God to the instrument to call Pharaoh to release the Israelites. Pharaoh repeatedly said no, and God poured out 10 plagues upon Egypt to change Pharaoh’s heart.

We are now at the point in the story where the people have been set free. They are stepping out on to a NEW JOURNEY with God, but this journey is not going to be a easy “walk in the park” (no pun intended). God will still use some pretty amazing events to grow them in their faith.??

What does your journey look like? If your anything like me, the journey that God has you on hasn’t included any “writing on the wall”, or “burning bush” experiences. Instead it has been a journey of faith where the clarity has been all but clear at times.?

 

Read the rest:

https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-journey-chad-finch-sermon-on-exodus-206119?ref=SermonSerps

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore from July 21, 2014
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What is the primary indictment that God made against His people?  It is their ingratitude.  In anguish and deep disappointment, the God of Love and Compassion cried out, “My people, what have I done to you, how have I been a burden to you? Answer me. I brought you out of the land of Egypt, I rescued you from the house of slavery; I sent Moses to lead you, with Aaron and Miriam.”  In His mercy, God saw the miseries of His people and called Moses to lead them out of the slavery of the Egyptians.   Yet in spite of what He had done for them, they turned against Him and worshipped false gods, disobeyed the Covenantal Laws which were given to them so that the People of God could live in peace and harmony based on the principles of justice and charity; truth and love.  Alas, this was not the case.  Not only did they turn against Him, but they had taken advantage of the poor and the weak whom the Lord loves as His own.

Isn’t this the way we regard God as well?  God has blessed us with riches and success.  Have we used them for His glory?  Have we thanked Him by proclaiming Him as our Lord and God?  Do we put Him as the center of our lives, or do we allow pleasures and success to crowd Him out of our lives?  Most of all, do we use our success, power, influence, money and resources for the service of His people?  More often than not, we only care about ourselves, and even if we do help the less fortunate, it is but a meager percentage of what we are enjoying in life.  And God is also asking us the same question as well, “Are we grateful for what we have been given?”

The second charge leveled against us is the failure to repent.  Even in our sinfulness, God does not give up on us.  He is always patient with us, awaiting our repentance.  He does not want to punish or destroy us.  If He allows us to suffer the consequences of sin, it is in order that we may come to the realization of the state of our souls.  Most of all, God sent us His only Son, Jesus, the Word of God, the Greatest of all prophets to call us to repentance.  Yet, like the Jews, our ears are deaf to His call to repentance; our hearts remain hardened in our stubbornness and sinfulness.  This is particularly true for Catholics because we have all the means to be reconciled with God and yet we are lukewarm in our response to His call for a change of heart.  Ironically, just like the so-called pagans, the Ninevites, non-Catholics and sinners are more responsive to the invitation to repent and seek conversion and reconciliation.

Those of us who are lukewarm in our faith are the most resistant to the grace of conversion.  We are contented to drift along with a nominal faith, like the Israelites. We try to soothe our conscience by fulfilling the basic duties of a Catholic, like attending Mass on Sundays and saying a few prayers upon waking up and before going to sleep; and perhaps occasionally, give a few dollars to the Church and to the poor.  However, in our daily lives, whether at work or at home, we are abusive, intolerable, dishonest and unreasonable in our dealings with our fellowmen.

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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Monday, July 24, 2017 — “We wish to see a sign from you.” — Moses answered the people, “Fear not! Stand your ground!””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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