Optional Memorial of Saint Sharbel Makhluf
Both the first reading and the Gospel involve a central belief of Christians: only through death can we reach eternal life. Only through a lifelong effort to know, love, and serve God in this world can we find eternal life. Only through many daily “deaths” to self can we help make God’s kingdom come. God’s will be done here on earth as already in heaven.
In the first reading, we experience part of the story in Exodus of the Passover escape from Egypt through the Red Sea. We watch the Israelites obeying God’s order to flee through the parted waters and, consequently, escaping the living death of slavery. We hear this same reading and response psalm at the Easter Vigil because, through Moses, God leads his people from death to life, just as through his son, God leads his people from the death of sin to the life of eternity. Jesus speaks in the Gospel about the sign of Jonah—God makes Jonah experience three days in the whale before Jonah obeys God’s order to go to Nineveh and successfully calls the Ninevites to repentance. This is an anticipation of Jesus’ experience of spending three days in the tomb before returning to life, saving us from sin and death.
Meanwhile, the Scribes and Pharisees will not see that Our Lord has already provided them with many signs of his divinity and will give them the sign of Jonah. Unlike the Ninevites, who obey God’s call to repentance, and unlike the Queen of Sheba, who experienced the wisdom of Solomon, the scribes and Pharisees completely miss that “there is something greater than Jonah, something greater than Solomon,” standing in their midst.
Today’s saint, Sharbel Makhluf (1828-1898), a Lebanese who followed the Lord as a monk and hermit, models the Christ-life for us in a life of holiness, wisdom, and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Let Us Pray:
Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory. I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea. My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior. (Exodus 15:1ff)