Tuesday, July 20, 2021
(Since today’s readings are so similar to yesterday’s, I decided to offer this reflection from 2019. I hope you like it.)
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we read that triumphant Exodus passage in which the Israelites pass through the walled-up waters of the Red Sea. The images and exultations abound!
Here are the obvious ones:
- Sea (the agent of delivery/salvation)
- Wind (the grace of change)
- Chariots (the inevitable challenges/obstacles)
- Night (the mystery in which faith operates)
- Fiery Cloud/The Lord’s Glance (God’s intervention)
- Song (humble acknowledgement and thanksgiving)
Just as the newborn is carried through the birth canal on the waters of life, so too God’s neonate people finally begin the fullness of life promised to Abraham. God accomplishes this great “delivery” by a masterful intertwining of omnipotence, human choices, and natural phenomena. The result is breathtaking!
Just as it is in our lives!
Like any great Bible story, this one invites us to find ourselves somewhere within it. At the least, we are all making a sometimes treacherous passage through life. And at particular times, maybe even now, the threats may be intense.
At times, we stand at the edge of intimidating seas, wondering how we will make it to the other side. But if we reflect on our history, we must acknowledge that – with prayer and patience – the parting wind does come. Those “chariots” at our heels become mired in our resilience, hope and trust in God.
In moments of astounding though quiet grace, we catch the glance of God. And we sing in thanksgiving.
The glory of this magnificent reading is captured in the Exultet, sung at the Easter Vigil.
Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven, exult, let Angel ministers of God exult, let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King's triumph! Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness. Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice, arrayed with the lightning of his glory, let this holy building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples. (Therefore, dearest friends, standing in the awesome glory of this holy light, invoke with me, I ask you, the mercy of God almighty, that he, who has been pleased to number me, though unworthy, among the Levites, may pour into me his light unshadowed, that I may sing this candle's perfect praises.) (V. The Lord be with you. R. And with your spirit.) V. Lift up your hearts. R. We lift them up to the Lord. V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. R. It is right and just. It is truly right and just, with ardent love of mind and heart and with devoted service of our voice, to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father, and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten. Who for our sake paid Adam's debt to the eternal Father, and, pouring out his own dear Blood, wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness. These, then, are the feasts of Passover, in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb, whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers. This is the night, when once you led our forebears, Israel's children, from slavery in Egypt and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea. This is the night that with a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin. This is the night that even now, throughout the world, sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices and from the gloom of sin, leading them to grace and joining them to his holy ones. This is the night, when Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld. Our birth would have been no gain, had we not been redeemed. O wonder of your humble care for us! O love, O charity beyond all telling, to ransom a slave you gave away your Son! O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer! O truly blessed night, worthy alone to know the time and hour when Christ rose from the underworld! This is the night of which it is written: The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness. The sanctifying power of this night dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty. On this, your night of grace, O holy Father, accept this candle, a solemn offering, the work of bees and of your servants’ hands, an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church. But now we know the praises of this pillar, which glowing fire ignites for God's honor, a fire into many flames divided, yet never dimmed by sharing of its light, for it is fed by melting wax, drawn out by mother bees to build a torch so precious. O truly blessed night, when things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to the human. Therefore, O Lord, we pray you that this candle, hallowed to the honor of your name, may persevere undimmed, to overcome the darkness of this night. Receive it as a pleasing fragrance, and let it mingle with the lights of heaven. May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who, coming back from death's domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity, and lives and reigns for ever and ever. R. Amen.