[note: over the next several weeks I enter into an administrative wind-sprint as the seminary academic year commences, so I will refrain from responding to blog-post comments, but ask you earnestly to please still comment. I deeply value your input. Others benefit and I relish every thought shared. At the end of August I will reply to them all and resume regular responses. Thank you.]
“Moses and the Burning Bush” at Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia. wikimedia.org
Here’s a fantastic homily preached by a priest from Malta, Fr. Nicholas Cachia, who’s here in Omaha for the summer. The first reading from Exodus included these verses:
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.”
Homily. Monday Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time – 20 July 2015 (St Cecilia’s Cathedral, Omaha): Fr. Nicholas Cachia
[The Pharisees said to Jesus:] “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you”.
Isn’t this also a temptation we go through? We want to see signs, we want to have something that serves us as a proof for our belief! We want to sound reasonable before the world. We wouldn’t like people to consider us as foolish in the choices we make.
Today, the first reading from the book of Exodus presents us with a great example of someone who believes, who entrusts himself and his cause completely into the hands of God: Moses.
Let’s have a look at the very awkward situation Moses finds himself in.
The Israelites have just left Egypt. They must have journeyed for some days till they arrived at the Red Sea. Pharaoh has second thoughts about allowing them to leave. Thus he gathers his army – the author of Exodus is attentive in giving us the details of the power of the Egyptian army – Pharaoh gathers his army so that he could chase the Israelites. With chariots, horses and trained soldiers he is certainly much more powerful and much faster than the tired slaves who have just left the country.
The scene is set. “The children of Israel looked up and saw that the Egyptians were
on the march in pursuit of them”.
They were trapped: the sea on the one side; the powerful Egyptian army on the other.
And they complained to Moses the leader. Shouldn’t he have known better? Shouldn’t he, as a leader, have planned the route better? He, who was raised in the court of Pharaoh, shouldn’t he have known better the temper of the king? All reasonable questions and considerations.
A very awkward situation indeed! Where would I … you … have stood? Whose side would I have taken?
Let’s enter with our imagination into the heart of Moses, this man who experienced the burning bush, who met the God who heard the cry of the poor and who has come down to save his people from the slavery of the Egyptians.
I would imagine him raising this prayer to God at that very moment. Lord, what am I to do? We are in this situation because we have obeyed you. You have shown us the way. And now? But, Lord God, you are the God of the impossible. I remember the promise you made to me at the moment of my calling: “I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to … a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3,17). I know you are a faithful God, who will save us from the hands of the mighty Egyptians. I trust you completely. I surrender myself and my people into your hands. Help us, save us, lead us.
It is from this trusting relationship with the Lord that Moses gets strength to address the frightened and angry Israelites with these simple, yet very powerful words: “Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today. The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still”.
How right was the author of the Letter to the Hebrews when he said: “By faith Moses left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible” (7,27). By faith … seeing him who is invisible!
And so we also turn to God, our Savior and our Protector. We know how much he loves us, how much he cares for us, and so … no we do not ask for a sign … we believe in him, we entrust ourselves in his hands, we will follow on his path even when we do not understand.
Lord, in every need let me come to You with humble trust saying, “Jesus, help me.”
In all my doubts, perplexities, and temptations, Jesus, help me. In hours of loneliness, weariness, and trials, Jesus, help me.
In the failure of my plans and hopes; in disappointments, troubles, and sorrows, Jesus, help me.
When others fail me and Your grace alone can assist me, help me.
When I throw myself on Your tender love as a father and savior, Jesus, help me.
When my heart is cast down by failure at seeing no good come from my efforts, Jesus, help me.
When I feel impatient and my cross irritates me, Jesus, help me.
When I am ill and my head and hands cannot work and I am lonely, Jesus, help me.
Always, always, in spite of weakness, falls, and shortcomings of every kind, Jesus, help me and never forsake me.
(final prayer taken from http://www.beliefnet.com/Prayers/Christian/Illness/Prayer-In-Time-Of-Trouble.aspx)