Tuesday, 20 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Exodus 14 : 21 – Exodus 15 : 1

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. At daybreak the sea returned to its place. As the Egyptians tried to flee, YHVH swept them into the sea. The waters flowed back and engulfed the chariots and horsemen of the whole army of Pharaoh that had followed Israel into the sea. Not one of them escaped. As for the Israelites they went forward on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the waters forming a wall on their right and their left.

On that day YHVH delivered Israel from the power of the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore. They understood what wonders YHVH had done for them against Egypt, and the people feared YHVH. They believed in YHVH and in Moses, His servant. Then Moses and the people sang this song to YHVH : “I will sing to YHVH, the Glorious One, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.”

Monday, 19 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to have faith in the Lord, to believe in Him and to trust in Him, that each and every one of us may grow in our faith in Him and not to be easily swayed by doubt and fear, or by worldly temptations and pressures among other things. The readings of the Scripture that we have heard today from the Book of Exodus on the moment of Israel’s liberation from the Egyptians, and the Lord’s words to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law ought to serve as good examples of this.

In our first reading today we heard of the time when the Israelites were already journeying away from the land of Egypt to the shores of the Red Sea, when the Pharaoh changed his mind about letting the Israelites go free, and sent his forces, his army and chariot to go after all of them. The people became afraid and panicked after they saw the Egyptians and their chariots coming for them, trapping them between the chariots and the Sea. They were desperate and began to blame Moses and the Lord for having brought them out of Egypt.

This was the example of how we let our fears and insecurities to rule over us and cloud our judgments, leading us to lose our faith in the Lord, just as we did not have strong faith in Him from the very beginning. We placed our trust more in our own strength and capabilities, and when these failed us, we gave in to despair and desperate actions, that actually brought us even further away from God and fell deeper into sin and into the clutches of the evil ones. Too often we worry and are concerned excessively because we have no trust and faith in the Lord.

And therefore, just as on that day on the shores of the Red Sea, when the armies and the chariots of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh were bearing down on the Israelites, many among the people of God lost heart and grumbled against the Lord instead of entrusting themselves to Him, despite having seen for themselves how God had intervened on their behalf, in sending ten great plagues that struck Egypt, the Egyptians and their Pharaoh so hard that these all forced the latter to agree to let the people of Israel to go free. They had seen so much, and yet, failed to believe, because they had not allowed the Lord to enter into their hearts yet.

This is therefore can be compared to the attitudes of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who in our Gospel passage today were mentioned as asking the Lord to give then signs so that they might believe in Him. They had in fact seen so many of the Lord’s miracles and wonders as they relentlessly pursued the Lord and hounded Him throughout His ministry, as they followed Him from place to place, seeking to find evidence against Him. They had seen all these, and yet still refused to believe in the Lord, and even dared to ask Him for more signs.

Why did the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did these things, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because they had hardened their hearts and minds, and closed them against the Lord, Who had ceaselessly and patiently knocked against the doors of their hearts and minds. They fell to the temptations of their worldly desires, of their pride and ego, their ambition and also want for power and influence, for fame and worldly glory, all of which led to their downfall, as they continued to resist the Lord’s good works and disobeyed Him, again and again.

No amount of miracles and signs would be enough to sway them all as long as they allowed themselves to be bought over by worldly desires and temptations. They saw the Lord as great rival of their own power, prestige and influence, and thus, that was why they worked so hard against Him, to the consternation of the Lord and His disciples. But the Lord remained patient and loving even towards them, and revealed how He would give them the ultimate Sign, as He was to be laid on the Altar of the Cross, to suffer death and then to rise again from the dead into glory on the third day, while alluding to the story of the prophet Jonah.

Through that, the Lord wanted to remind them and also all of us, that when we encounter challenges and trials, difficulties and hardships, we must not lose faith in Him. On the contrary, in fact we have to redouble our faith and commitment to Him, seeking Him with ever greater sincerity and zeal. This is what each and every one of us are supposed to do, and what all of us are called to do as Christians, to be those people who trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and might, and dedicate ourselves each and every moment of our lives to glorify the Lord.

May the Lord be with us and may He strengthen us, reminding us of how He has rescued His people by the shores of the Red Sea, opening the sea before them, leading them through and crushing the armies and the chariots of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, showing them and all of us, that in the end, if we stay faithful to the Lord, we shall triumph and if we remain in His grace, we shall gain eternal life and true joy, through Him. May God bless us and our good endeavours and efforts, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 19 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 12 : 38-42

At that time, 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.”

Monday, 19 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Exodus 15 : 1bc-2, 3-4, 5-6

I will sing to YHVH, the Glorious One, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea. YHVH is my strength and my song, and He is my salvation.

He is my God and I will praise Him; the God of my father : I will extol Him. YHVH is a Warrior; YHVH is His Name. The chariots of Pharaoh and his army He has hurled into the sea; his chosen officers were drowned in the Red Sea.

The deep covers them; they went down like a stone. Your hand, o YHVH, glorious and powerful, Your right hand, o YHVH, shatters the enemy.

Monday, 19 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Exodus 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.

YHVH 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 YHVH. 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? Is this not 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 YHVH will do to save you today. The Egyptians whom you see today, you will never see again! YHVH will fight for you and all you have to do is to keep still.”

YHVH 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 YHVH when I gain glory for Myself at the cost of Pharaoh and his army!”