16TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 3 / (Green/White)
St. Sharbel Makhluf, priest
Ex 15:1bc-2, 3-4, 5-6
Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
1st Reading: Ex 14:5-18
The king of Egypt was told that the people had fled; then Pharaoh and his ministers changed their minds with regard to the people. “What have we done,” they said, “in allowing Israel to go and be free of our service?” Pharaoh prepared his chariot and took his army with him. There were six hundred of his best chariots; indeed he took all the Egyptian chariots, each one with his warriors.
Yahweh had hardened the mind of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who set out in pursuit of the Israelites as they marched forth triumphantly. The Egyptians—all the chariots and horses of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army—gave chase and caught up with them when they had encamped by the sea near Pihahiroth, facing Baalzephon.
The Israelites saw the Egyptians marching after them: Pharaoh was drawing near. They were terrified and cried out to Yahweh. Then they said to Moses, “Were there no tombs in Egypt? Why have you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done by bringing us out of Egypt? Isn’t this what we said when we were in Egypt: Let us work for the Egyptians. Far better serve Egypt than to die in the desert!“
Moses said to the people, “Have no fear! Stay where you are and see the work Yahweh will do to save you today. The Egyptians whom you see today, you will never see again! Yahweh will fight for you and all you have to do is to keep still.“
Yahweh said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. You will raise your staff and stretch your hand over the sea and divide it to let the Israelites go dryfoot through the sea. I will so harden the minds of the Egyptians that they will follow you. And I will have glory at the expense of Pharaoh, his army, his chariots and horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I gain glory for myself at the cost of Pharaoh and his army!
Gospel: Mt 12:38-42
Then, some teachers of the law and some Pharisees spoke up, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.“ Jesus answered them, “An evil and unfaithful people want a sign; but no sign will be given, them except the sign of the prophet Jonah. In the same way, as Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
At the judgment, the people of Nineveh will rise with this generation, and condemn it; because they reformed their lives at the preaching of Jonah, and here, there is greater than Jonah. At the judgment, the Queen of the South will stand up and condemn you. She came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon.
It is often said: “To him who has genuine faith, no sign is needed; to him who has no faith no amount of signs is sufficient.“ In spite of the many miracles that Jesus performed in their presence, the Pharisees remain in their hardness of heart and demand that he perform more signs to prove he is the Messiah. The Lord, however, does not give in to their request because they won’t believe anyway. He points to the sign of Jonah which prefigures his Paschal Mystery (Passion, Death and Resurrection). At the same time, the sign of Jonah brings to mind the positive response of the Ninevites when they heard Jonah’s preaching on repentance. They humbly accepted their sinfulness, did penance and reformed their lives as manifestation of their genuine conversion.
Why do we find it difficult to trust God at times? Like the Pharisees, sometimes we succumb to the temptation to ask God for signs as proofs of his presence and his will. While there are times when signs are helpful, an undisputable proof of faith in God is our ability to trust Him simply and absolutely.
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Biblical Texts are taken from Christian Community Bible, Catholic Pastoral Edition (57th Edition) The New English Translation for the ROMAN MISSAL
With permission from the EPISCOPAL COMMISION ON LITURGY of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
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