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He Stretched Out His Hand

Homily for Tuesday of the 16th Week in Ordinary Time

The importance of the very first line of today’s reading from the Book of Exodus may elude us at first because our attention might be drawn to the action of the sea and how it splits a part to allow the children of Israel to escape from Pharaoh and his army. However, we must be certain that we understand what the sacred writer is saying. “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD swept the sea . . . and so turned it into dry land.” Moses did not part the sea. God parted the sea. Moses did not bring the wall of water down upon Pharaoh’s army; God did.

Moses played his part in this event. He constantly reassured the people that God was with them and that God’s mighty and outstretched arm was saving them from the Egyptians. He was God’s voice; his hand held the staff God had given him. Nonetheless, God accomplished this great deed through Moses.

Jesus also stretches out his hand today in the Gospel. Matthew writes: “And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.’” Though not as dramatic a gesture as the one read about in Exodus, Jesus’ gesture is just as powerful. He stretches out his hand to his disciples and declares that his family includes whoever does the will of God.

Through Moses, God gathered a people to be a chosen people – God’s own people. Through Jesus, God gathered men and women into a redeemed community, free to be family in Christ, open to all who seek God and do God’s will.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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