The Red Sea Crossing and What It Says to Us in Times Like These
Jul 22, 2019
Community in Mission
As we are reading about the crossing of the Red Sea in daily Mass this week (16th week of the Year), we do well to ponder this writing by St. Ambrose, which reminds us of the victory that is ours:
You observe that in this crossing [of the Red Sea] by the Hebrews there was already a symbol of holy Baptism. The Egyptian perished; the Hebrew escaped. What else is the daily lesson of this sacrament than that guilt is drowned and error destroyed, while goodness and innocence pass over unharmed? (from St. Ambrose’s Treatise on the Mysteries, 12)
In times like these, we need such a reminder of this ultimate victory. The word “ultimate” is important because prior to their victory the Hebrews endured centuries of injustice. They also experienced the terror of having a vengeful army coming at them from behind while an impassible sea lay before them. It took faith to walk through those waters that rose thirty feet on either side of them like walls. Would the walls of water hold? Trusting in God and His servant Moses, they went forth.
By this faith and through this baptism into Moses (cf 1 Cor 10:2) they had the victory. How much more so do we, who are baptized into Christ Jesus.
We need the reminder of this victory in these times of moral darkness, when the murder of unborn children is called a constitutional right and celebrated with cheers, when the scientific fact that at the moment of conception a unique human being is created is denied, when medical evidence that unborn children feel pain is scoffed at by pro-choice “science deniers.”
- These are times when many glory in their shame (Phil 3:19; Rom 1:32) by celebrating sexual disorder and confusion.
- These are times when many, through the lie of transgenderism, fulfill Scripture passages such as these:
o You [O mere man] have turned things upside down, as if the potter were regarded as clay. Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pottery say of the potter, “He has no understanding”? (Isaiah 29:16)
o But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” (Rom 9:20)
- These are times when too many priests and bishops—who should be leading the battle—are silent, or sounding an uncertain trumpet, or even speaking error and spreading confusion themselves.
- These are times when, with a humanitarian crisis on our border, neither political party will budge an inch to bring reason to a system that is broken.
In times like these we need to remember that God has already won; whatever sin or foolishness emerges is temporary and destined to be drowned in the sea. We all sometimes feel that there is an army of sin at our back and an impassible sea of pride in front of us—but God can make a way out of no way; He can do anything but fail.
Where is Pharaoh now? Where is Caesar? Where is Napoleon? Where is the USSR? In the lifetime of the Church, empires have risen and fallen, nations have come and gone, and errors and heresies have temporarily had their day. Enemies have scoffed at God’s Church and threatened her ruin, boldly stating that they would bury us and our foolish, “outdated” ways. We have read the funeral rites over every one of them. When the present foolishness has passed, we will still be here, preaching the same gospel, while every error and lie is buried at the bottom of the sea.
Do not be discouraged. The battle is real and must be fought, but the victory is already assured. At times it may not seem to be so, but it is. To return to the words of St. Ambrose:
What else is the daily lesson of this sacrament than that guilt is drowned and error destroyed, while goodness and innocence pass over unharmed?
Fight on, fellow soldiers, knowing that the victory is ours after many days.