Monday, July 18, 2005



JULY 19, 2005

EXODUS 14:21-15:1
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD swept the sea
with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry
land. When the water was thus divided, the children of Israel marched
into the midst of the sea on dry land, with the water like a wall to
their right and to their left. The Egyptians followed in pursuit; all
Pharaoh's horses and chariots and charioteers went after them right
into the midst of the sea. In the night watch just before dawn the LORD
cast through the column of the fiery cloud upon the Egyptian force a
glance that threw it into a panic; and he so clogged
their chariot wheels that they could hardly drive. With that the
Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel, because the LORD was
fighting for them against the Egyptians. Then the LORD told Moses,
"Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may flow back upon
the Egyptians, upon their chariots and their charioteers." So Moses
stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea flowed back
to its normal depth. The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea,
when the LORD hurled them into its midst. As the water flowed back, it
covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh's whole army that
had followed the children of Israel into the sea. Not a single one of
them escaped. But the children of Israel
had marched on dry land through the midst of the sea, with the water
like a wall to their right and to their left. Thus the LORD saved
Israel on that day from the power of the Egyptians. When Israel saw the
Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and beheld the great power that
the LORD had shown against the Egyptians, they feared the LORD and
believed in him and in his servant Moses. Then Moses and the children
of Israel sang this song to the LORD: I will sing to the LORD, for he
is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast
into the sea.

MATTHEW 12:46-50
While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers
appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. Someone told him, "Your
mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with
you." But he said in reply to the one who told him, "Who is my mother?
Who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples,
he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will
of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother."

Blood, they say, is thicker than water. You can find people whose
lives validate this saying. Their loyalty to family is absolute, their
dedication to family interests total and their devotion to family honor
impregnable. Generally speaking we find these attitudes quite
admirable. But of course, they are not necessarily Christian.

Jesus passes judgment on these attitudes in today's gospel. He does
not condemn them. He simply indicates there is something far more
important than family loyalty. "My mother and my brothers," he says,
"-my family-are those who hear the word of God and act on it."

Jesus left his home and his mother in Nazareth when he felt the call to
do his Father's work. He refused to return to Nazareth when his
relatives came to take him from his Father's work because they thought
he was driving himself too hard. And he freely chose to hang on the
cross while his mother had to stand at its foot watching his blood
drain from his body. Jesus accomplished what he did because his
supreme value was to do his Father's will.

One of the most beautiful aspects of Filipino culture is the family
loyalty and devotion that characterizes Filipino lifestyle. Foreigners
frequently ask, "Why are there no homes for the aged here? Social
Security benefits surely are inadequate for the elderly to live on.
How do old people survive?" Of course, old people do not survive here;
they live in the love and with the loving attention of their children.
They are not shunted off to nursing homes and
senior citizens' villages. They are important in the families, and
very important persons in the lives and the education of their
grandchildren. And many foreigners stare in disbelief.

But there's a downside to this family-centered attitude: it can create
a number of dangers. Family honor can become an absolute value, more
important than the good of the community or the nation. Family loyalty
can put heavier demands on people than does loyalty to Christ and his
values. Family interest can be, and often is, the excuse for
injustice, violated laws, violated persons, cheating, graft,

Blood is thicker than water, unfortunately often thicker than the
relationships of which Christ speaks in this gospel. Our attitude
toward family and the behavior that flows from this attitude must
always be transparent to ourselves made transparent to us in our
examination of conscience.

"Heavenly Father, you bless us with family and friends, both
spiritual and natural. Help me to love them with charity and grace. May
I always prefer your will and seek to do what is right and good in all
my relationships."

Have a good day!

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