The Lord himself will fight for you

Question of the Day

What victory does the Lord want to win for you today?
How can we glorify God?

Avanti!

In the Gospel reading today men demand signs of Jesus. Still today, men want proofs. But if they got them, they would most likely try to rationalize the sign and remain obstinate in disbelief. As Father Abraham told the rich man who merited eternal hellfire: if your brothers don’t believe Moses and the prophets, they won’t believe a man rising from the dead. (Luke 16:19–31)

In the OT reading, the Israelites are complaining to Moses, looking back to their past and claiming that their former enslavement is preferable to the current situation. The circumstance seems impossible: the Red Sea ahead and Pharaoh’s army in pursuit behind. Moses encourages the people, but then himself turns to God. God asks Moses “why are you crying out to me? Go forward!”

As with the Israelites, God is in our midst, ready to act. God has given and does give proofs—but not in response to our incredulity and at our demand. We, like the Israelites, are afraid, preferring the familiar comfort of slavery to sin. When Jesus healed the ten lepers, it was not an instantaneous sign. They were healed “on the way.” In doing what Jesus asked them to do, in trust, in going forward, they realized the healing had taken place. So there is the stillness of trust, but also the action of obedience and moving forward.

Fear and comfort keep us behind. Trust not only launches us forward but is the prerequisite for God to do what only he can do: split the sea, make a way, and conquer our enemies. What other sign do you want?

For us to sing the responsorial psalm and claim “the Lord is a warrior!” we must first acknowledge our weakness—be it our powerlessness over a sin that seems to have conquered us or an external oppression. As Saint Paul said, when he is weak, he is strong (2 Corinthians 12). This paradox is possible only in and with Jesus Christ.

Sometimes the greatest challenge in our life is to be patient with ourselves, to be present to the current situation, and to be still and in humble trust wait for the Lord to win the victory.

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Exodus 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: Exodus 15:1BC–2, 3–4, 5–6

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.

Gospel: Matthew 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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