July 19, 2011 - Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

There is a long tradition in Christian interpretation, going back to the Apostles, which considers the Red Sea to be a type of Baptism. As the Israelites passed through the waters of the Red Sea and came out the other side while the Egyptians drowned, so too we passed through the waters of Baptism and come out the other side while Sin is drowned.

Yet in one aspect, which you may have already noticed, this analogy breaks down: once the Israelites had passed through the Red Sea, the Egyptians no longer pursued them; the Egyptians were dead, but after we are baptized, we are still pursued by sin. I was baptized a month after I was born, why then am I not perfect now? An adult who is baptized steps out of the water completely sinless, yet all of them will soon return to their sins. Why do we need constant Confession as a renewal of our Baptism? Why does Baptism not free us as completely from the grasp of Satan as the Red Sea freed the Israelites from the grasp of Pharaoh?

But the Israelites were not free of Pharaoh after the Red Sea. They often spoke about returning to Egypt. Not until they had wandered in the desert for forty years were they ready to enter the Promised Land. Even after death, Pharaoh retained power over their minds. So too, even after we are free of Original Sin, its power over our minds remains. After Baptism, we have to wander in the world for 70 or 80 years before we can enter the Promised Land. God has freed us from the Pharaoh who pursues us; no one can compel us to return to Egypt, but now we need to be free from the Pharaoh who still lives in our minds trying to convince us to return to Egypt on our own.

How can we be free? The Israelites were not free until the whole generation died and new generation grew up who had never known Pharaoh. It is the same for us. When we recognize a part of ourself that wants to sin we should turn to it and say, “You have to die.” Eventually, if we are consistent and firm, that old generation will die off and the new humanity, Christ himself, will takes its place. Then we will say, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Then we will be perfectly free.