The people of God can only move forward. This is what the Rabbis claim. Even if they find unsurmountable obstacles in front of them, they have to keep on moving ahead. They can never stop.
Exodus 14 relates the epic event of when the people of God continued walking in the midst of the sea. They never drowned because the sea split open in front of them.
There is a lot of significant religious folklore around this historical event.
The circumstances were serious. In front of them they had a very deep sea and behind them there were Pharaoh’s riders following them furiously in order to take them back. They did not know how to proceed. They were between a rock and a hard place. They were terrified.
Then, came the order to proceed. Moses just said, “Let us move on”. This was crazy! How can we keep on walking in the sea?! Everyone knows that if one walks in the water one simply drowns…
This order created a lot of consternation. The people split itself in three groups. The physically powerful said: “We will fight the Egyptians. We will show them who we are – we are not cowards. Our sheer physical strength will pull us through…”
The rich guys, the ones who before leaving Egypt took lots of money and other precious stones, thought of a different strategy. “Let us try to negotiate with them. Our riches will give us an advantage on the bargaining table. We shall sacrifice some of our resources and gain back our freedom. Money makes the world go around, as many argue!”
However there was a small group, the Levites, who were neither strong nor rich. They were poor and weak. They could not possibly rely on money because they had very little neither on their muscularity because they were extremely frail. They could only rely on obeying God’s order! They reasoned among themselves, “Who knows… may be Moses’ order is not so crazy after all. Perhaps there is God behind this order. Perhaps God can even open a sea! We have never seen it happen before, but it may happen now! Let us do as Moses told us.”
And this poor, weak group of Israelites made a step forward in the sea, and then another step and another and another… And amazingly enough the more they walked in the sea, the more the sea opened before them. It was not a sudden or dramatic opening. They just took one step at a time and the sea dried up a couple of feet. Another step and the sea dried up even more…
Obviously all the other Jews when they saw the sea opening up in front of Levi’s tribe, started walking behind them. That day – the Rabbis claim – all the people of God were saved thanks to the poor and the weak. As a tribute to their obedience in faith, Moses ordered that Levi’s tribe would be the priestly people.
Blessed are the poor, said the Master.
These kind of ‘poor’ people will save the world…
Are you poor or rich?
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.