Lent with the Book of Exodus (Ch 14)
February 27, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Exodus 14 (Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent)

Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn back and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal Zephon. You shall encamp opposite it by the sea. Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are entangled in the land. The wilderness has shut them in.’ I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will follow after them; and I will get honor over Pharaoh, and over all his armies; and the Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh.” They did so.

The king of Egypt was told that the people had fled; and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” He prepared his chariot, and took his army with him; and he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, with captains over all of them. Yahweh hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; for the children of Israel went out with a high hand. The Egyptians pursued them. All the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen, and his army overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baal Zephon.

When Pharaoh came near, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were very afraid. The children of Israel cried out to Yahweh. They said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you treated us this way, to bring us out of Egypt? Isn’t this the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of Yahweh, which he will work for you today; for you will never again see the Egyptians whom you have seen today. Yahweh will fight for you, and you shall be still.”

Yahweh said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward. Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. Then the children of Israel shall go into the middle of the sea on dry ground. Behold, I myself will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will go in after them. I will get myself honor over Pharaoh, and over all his armies, over his chariots, and over his horsemen. The Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh when I have gotten myself honor over Pharaoh, over his chariots, and over his horsemen.” The angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them, and stood behind them. It came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. There was the cloud and the darkness, yet it gave light by night. One didn’t come near the other all night.

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. The children of Israel went into the middle of the sea on the dry ground; and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the middle of the sea: all of Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. In the morning watch, Yahweh looked out on the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and confused the Egyptian army. He took off their chariot wheels, and they drove them heavily; so that the Egyptians said, “Let’s flee from the face of Israel, for Yahweh fights for them against the Egyptians!”

Yahweh said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come again on the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it. Yahweh overthrew the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. The waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even all Pharaoh’s army that went in after them into the sea. There remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked on dry land in the middle of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Thus Yahweh saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work which Yahweh did to the Egyptians, and the people feared Yahweh; and they believed in Yahweh and in his servant Moses.


 Let us consider the path God pointed out to Moses. From Etham, he said, turn back and make your way between Pi-hahiroth and Migdol, which is opposite Baal-zephon.
We might suppose a path pointed out by God would be a smooth and pleasant one, free of obstacles and requiring no effort from the traveller, but in fact God’s way is an ascent, a tortuous and rugged climb. There can be no downhill road to virtue – it is uphill all the way, and the path is narrow and arduous. Listen also to the Lord's warning in the Gospel: The way that leads to life, he says, is narrow and hard. Notice how close the agreement is between the Gospel and the Law. In the Law the way of virtue is shown to be a tortuous climb; the Gospels speak of the way that leads to life as narrow and hard. Is it not obvious then, even to the blind, that the Law and the Gospels were both written by one and the same Spirit?
And so the road they followed was a winding ascent, an ascent surmounted by a beacon. The ascent refers to works and the beacon to faith, so that we can see the great difficulty and laborious effort involved in both faith and works. Many are the temptations we shall meet and many the obstacles to faith that lie in store for us in our desire to pursue the things of God.
Pharaoh said: ‘The Israelites are wandering in the wilderness.’ In his eyes anyone who obeyed God was wandering in the wilderness because the way of wisdom is a tortuous route, rugged and winding. Thus, when we profess our belief in one God and in the same confession assert that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, to unbelievers this seems difficult, incomprehensible, and involved. When we go on to say that the Lord of majesty is also the Son of Man who descended from heaven and was crucified, they find this baffling and cannot understand it. Whoever hears this and cannot respond to it with faith will say of believers: ‘They are wandering in the wilderness.’ But stand firm in your belief, cast aside all doubt, for we know that the way of faith has been laid down for us by God. We cannot expect the road to life to be a smooth one, free from trials. As Saint Paul warns: All who wish to live a godly life in Christ will suffer persecution. Yet for anyone in search of the perfect life death on the road is preferable to failure even to set out on the quest. (Origen of Alexandria)

Musical Selection (Elaine Hagenberg)


I stand at the sea and turn
to face the desert stretching

endless and still.
My eyes are dazzled
The sky brilliant blue
Sunburnt sands unyielding white.
My hands turn to dove wings.
My arms
for the sky
and I want to sing
the song rising inside me.
My mouth open
I stop.
Where are the words?
Where the melody?

In a moment of panic

My eyes go blind.

Can I take a step

Without knowing a


Will I falter

Will I fall

Will the ground sink away from under me?

The song still unformed— How can I sing?

To take the first step—

To sing a new song—

Is to close one’s eyes

and dive

into unknown waters,

For a moment knowing nothing risking all— 

But then to discover

The waters are friendly

The ground is firm.

And the song—

the song rises again.

Out of my mouth

come words lifting the wind. And I hear

for the first time

the song

that has been in my heart silent


even to me.

Watch over your Church, Lord God, with unfailing mercy,
and since without you humankind will surely fall,
protect us by your grace from every harm
and guide us toward those things that work for our good.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.