Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Exodus 14:21-15:1; Matthew 12:46-30)
Today’s first reading describes perhaps God’s mightiest act in the Old Testament after creation. He saved Israel from the Egyptian army as they crossed the Sea. A careful reading of the text reveals two versions of what took place. In what might be called the “natural version” of the event, God sends a dry wind over the Se of Reeds. The shallow waters evaporate enough to allow the people to cross the seabed on foot. But when Pharaoh’s army follows in pursuit, the wheels of their chariots become clogged with mud.
The second “spectacular version” of the event shows Moses parting the sea under God’s instruction. When the Israelis reach the far side, Moses makes another gesture which brings the waters together. Pharaoh’s army then drowns in the middle of the sea. The first version is obviously more plausible, but in either case God is the principal actor. The narrative is meant to show that God saves His people from their enemies.
We must never forget the lesson. God will bring about victory from defeat. Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said that “the arc of the moral universe… bends toward justice.” It does so because God is the author of history. As Moses does at the end of the reading, we want to praise God for the justice He has established.