Roc Homily (b) – 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time (A) 2017
The significance of the sea in Matthew.
A lot happens by the sea, on the sea, or in the sea in Matthew’s gospel. Sunday’s gospel referred to the sea three times. Unusual, eh? Two main themes stand out:
- Both Matthew and the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, present the sea as the symbol of everything that is opposed to God – sin, idolatry, pride, etc…
Matthew 8:32 And he said to them, “Go!” So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water.
Matthew 18:6 “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Notice how that which opposes God goes into the sea where it belongs.
Habakkuk 1:14f (NRSV) — 14 You have made people like the fish of the sea, like crawling things that have no ruler. 15 The enemy brings all of them up with a hook; he drags them out with his net, he gathers them in his seine; so he rejoices and exults.
Ezekiel 28:2 (NRSV) — 2 Mortal, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God: Because your heart is proud and you have said, “I am a god; I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,” yet you are but a mortal, and no god, though you compare your mind with the mind of a god.
- And they also see the sea as the place of God’s victory.
Exodus 15:19–22 When the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his chariot drivers went into the sea, the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them; but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water.
Pharaoh, who required the Israelites to worship himself as a god, ends up in the sea where he belongs.
Point: Jesus ministry began as “light in darkness” by the sea. He called disciples “from the sea.” It was the beginning of God’s victory over the sea through Christ & the Spirit.