Mass Reading & Meditation for July 23, 2013
Meditation: Matthew 12:46-50
Saint Bridget, Religious
“Stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.’” (Matthew 12:49)
Did you catch the image that runs through each of today’s readings? It’s an outstretched hand. In the first reading, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea (Exodus 14:21). In the responsorial psalm, God reaches out his powerful hand to deliver his people from the Egyptian army. And in the Gospel, Jesus stretches out his hand as he welcomes his disciples into a community so close-knit that it is more like a family than anything.
Reading today’s Gospel in light of the Exodus story can teach us something new. Consider this: the Israelites left Egypt a ragtag bunch. But once they were rescued from their captors, passed through the Red Sea, and received the commandments, they became a worshipping community. They were no longer just refugees; they were a people called together to manifest God’s greatness to the nations.
As for us, we have been delivered from the power of sin. We have passed through the waters of baptism. We have received the Holy Spirit. All that makes us part of the family that Jesus speaks about today.
What about all those outstretched hands? Well, they may lead us to think of deeper themes of redemption and community, or family. Think of another time you see outstretched hands. It’s at Mass, when we stretch out our hands to offer each other a sign of peace. There’s much more to this small gesture than a sign of friendship. Stretching out our hands, we can affirm that these people are our own brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. They are our spiritual family—a big, messy, redeemed, loved, and loving family. Our outstretched hands may not be able to part the seas for our new brothers and sisters. But they can welcome a new parish member into a closer friendship. They may not be able to deliver people from painful circumstances. But they can provide a warm touch of comfort and kinship.
Jesus wants to make us all one. He wants us to love one another in deed as well as in word. May it begin with our own outstretched hands!
“Lord Jesus, thank you for reaching out your hand to me. I offer my hands to you. Use them to reach out to my spiritual family.”
Exodus 14:21–15:1; (Psalm) Exodus 15:8-10, 12, 17