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Homily: Sixteenth Tuesday of Ordinary Time

This Month's Stories

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Sixteenth Tuesday of Ordinary Time (Exodus 14:21-15:1) “How Did They Do That?”

When I read the first lesson for today’s Mass, I remember the movie the Ten Commandments that was directed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1956. One of the most complicated movie scenes ever shot was the parting of the Red Sea. There were really four layers to the scene that were blended to create the illusion that the sea parted.

In the climatic ending, a huge trench was dug, and 300,000 gallons of water was poured in. This gave the impression of the churning water that flowed over Pharoah and his chariots. What seemed other worldly could be explained.

Biblical historians have wrestled with how to explain the parting of the Red Sea for hundreds of years. One theory is that the Israelites did not cross the Red Sea but crossed the Reed Sea. The Reed Sea was a much smaller body of water that had marshy shallows. The Israelites walked through. Pharoah’s chariots chased after and got hopelessly stuck in the mud, so they were unable to chase the People of Israel.

We all tend to get hung up on how things happen in the Biblical stories rather than to ask what their Theological meaning is. Whatever way the Israelites escaped from Egypt, there is one fact that matters which is that God saved them. The story is one that has reverberated with people throughout the centuries. The Theological truth is that God will never forget his chosen people. We have been made part of the chosen ones by our Baptism.

The Exodus story inspired the African American slaves of our country. They saw their story of enslavement in the Exodus story. The story kept their hopes alive through generations until finally enslavement in the United States ended. Many black slaves escaped, some rather miraculously to the northern U.S. and Canada.

Freedom from slavery to sin and death will come to each of us. We may feel entrapped by our addictions at times, but one day there will be freedom. We may fear death, but we will be released from that fear. Those are the hopes that uplift our spirits.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Am I enslaved by anything in my life? What do I hope for?
  2. Do I ask the wrong questions about Biblical stories sometimes? How can I take a fresh look?


Dear Parishioners, 

          This is the week we have Vacation Bible School. Every morning our children will be gathering to study God’s word and to enjoy each other’s company. This is another sign that our parish is getting back to some sense of normalcy. Please pray for the children that they may grow closer to Jesus this week.

          Yesterday, I went to the funeral of Fr. Tom Henseler. Fr. Henseler was the spiritual director of the Cursillo program in the Peoria Diocese for many years. He also started the diaconate program in our diocese. The two ministries were very important in the history of our local church the last fifty years. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Tom.

          May Our Lady and All the Angels and Saints watch over you today. 

          Fr. Mark