First Reading: Exodus 14:5-18
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the people of Israel as they went forth defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-ha-hi’roth, in front of Ba’al-ze’phon. When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were in great fear. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD; and they said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, `Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go on dry ground through the sea. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
Responsorial Psalm: Exodus 15:1-6
Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying, “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is his name. “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea; and his picked officers are sunk in the Red Sea. The floods cover them; they went down into the depths like a stone. Thy right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, thy right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
Gospel: Matthew 12:38-42
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nin’eveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
As I was meditating on today’s Scripture, one line in the first reading stood out like a neon light.
“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still.”
Just what does that mean? Obviously the Israelites couldn’t literally sit down and be still. There they were being chased by Pharaoh and his angry mob of Egyptians. Understandably, they were filled with fear and cried out to God and to Moses. Moses encouraged (or reprimanded) them saying, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today.”
God had a plan. A plan that was above and beyond their imagination.
When Moses commanded them to be still, he was telling them to hold their tongues and let go of the anguish. They needed to quiet their hearts and trust that God would save them. There was still work to be done. They had to gather their belongings, lift the children onto their shoulders, hold up their elders and get across the parted sea as quickly and calmly as humanly possible. They still had to fight and work.
There are times when we all have felt like the Israelites. We look at a situation and think, there is no possible way this will work. Or we feel so overcome with physical and mental exhaustion that we just fall to our knees and cry out. God’s words are the same.
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD . . . . The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still.”
When I try to take these words to heart, my situation does not magically change. My cross does not immediately disappear. There is still much work to be done. The change comes in my heart. Being still and quieting the anguish allows God’s grace, strength and peace to wash over me. I am in a better state of mind to carry on the fight because I know the Lord has my back. He will not leave my side.
Today when you feel overwhelmed by your duties or a cross you are carrying, stop for a few moments and remember God’s words to the Israelites. Take them to heart and trust that the Lord will fight for you.
Bobbi Rol is a wife, mom and blogger with a teen daughter, three rambunctious little boys, and two babies in heaven. She lives in California with her husband, Brian. You can find out more about her here.