First Reading: Exodus 1:8-14, 22
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war befall us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land." Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens; and they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Ra-am'ses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they made the people of Israel serve with rigor, and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field; in all their work they made them serve with rigor. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live."
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 124:1-8
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, let Israel now say -- if it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters. Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth! We have escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped! Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
Gospel: Matthew 10:34-11:1
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
When I was young, my family used to go on vacations to Oregon. We would make the long drive from Los Angeles to just north of the California-Oregon border. My mom’s longtime friend owned a small but beautiful farm on the bank of a river. My sister and I volunteered to feed the goats, we walked to the local soda shop for candy and soda phosphates, we woke to the sounds of birds chirping and the smell of the dew across the fields of grass. Those were some of my favorite family vacations—family-centered and simple.
In the summers, we were able to swim in the river. The current just behind their home was smooth and the waters calm. My sister and I could skip rocks, collect beautiful flowers, and find families of frogs soaking in the afternoon sun. But a few feet to either side of our calm oasis was rapidly moving water. The water downstream quickly changed from calm to rushing white water rapid. My mom and her friend only felt comfortable with us playing in the river if they knew we could not venture farther than the calm waters.
And I was stubborn. I was convinced that I would be safe. I insisted that I could remain in the calm waters while we played and I thought I would be smart enough not to get swept up in the rushing waters. My mother insisted that my sister and I tether ourselves to her and her friend so that we would not accidentally get further that anticipated. “What if we slipped and floated downstream?” she would wonder. I was mortified. I was thirteen and thought it was stupid to have a rope tied around my waist with the other end tied to my mother’s waist while she sat on the bank.
Among many other life lessons my mother has taught me over the years (which I did not appreciate at the time), she taught me something very important that day. She wanted to remain by my side so that I would be safe, so that I would not fall, so that I would remain with her.
Jesus shed His blood for us. He has tethered Himself to all of us.
We continue to multiply and every son and daughter of Christ continues to be tethered to him. We are standing in the cleansing waters of the river with our bodies and souls attached to Him. He would not want us to succumb to the raging waters. We are able to sever the rope and face the waters alone, but His promises and His rope are enduring. He does not let go. He does not untie the rope. He holds on tighter, even when the current quickens and we are tugged in other directions.
We are in the river, but He is our tether.
Where have you severed your ties with Christ? Talk to Him in your heart of hearts. He longs for that connection. God loves His daughters.
Samantha Aguinaldo-Wetterholm is a wife, mom, and soon-to-be-dentist currently living in San Francisco, California. You can find out more about her here.