Dr. Utr. Iur.


Van den Broeke

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Crossing of the red sea

Vocation of the first apostles

    ★Reflexion on crossing of the Red Sea and the Vocation of the Apostles

A metaphor on Faith

After the Vatican Council II, the altar, as locus of the Sacrifice of Jesus, turned towards the people. The often very beautiful baroque altars, where the priest would stand with his back to the people, got out of use. Unfortunately, most of the new altars are looking like dressed orange-boxes. Not so in the Dom of Xanten am Rhein. When I visited that Dome, now more than 30 years ago, the new bronze altar and lectionary-holder of Gernot Rumpf got stuck in my mind for the rest of my life.

Over the lectionary-stand is hanging a bronze fishnet. But not an ordinary one. The fish that got captured have the face of men, saints. Whoever is proclaiming the word of God, is becoming a fisher of men! And what for men! Often weak ones; just like His fishermen without theological credentials. Jesus never looked down on common men. He was not like the British playwright George Bernard Shaw who said: “I have never had any feeling for the working classes, except the desire to abolish them, and replace them by sensible people.”

        Jesus choose them for what he could do through them. In the same way the JHWH choose Moses for what He could do through him: in Ex. 4:10-12 we can find the following:10 Moses said to Yahweh, 'Please, my Lord, I have never been eloquent, even since you have spoken to your servant, for I am slow and hesitant of speech.'11 'Who gave a person a mouth?' Yahweh said to him. 'Who makes a person dumb or deaf, gives sight or makes blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? 12 Now go, I shall help you speak and instruct you what to say.'

Gernot Rumph: St. Victor Dom in Xanten am Rhein

      “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand”. This must felt also the people of Israel. Finally the moment of departure was there. All what is asked to have FAITH: and to improve their faith, JHWH give them signs, not like a magician, but with the laws of nature (fire: the column - air: the east wind blows -water: the sea opens - earth: the stretch of land to cross safely). In the same way Jesus offers a first sign: after a whole night of fishing without result, by having faith in Jesus they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear. But they left their lucrative trade behind and followed Jesus. Doesn’t our own mother says always: “don’t follow strangers ...” But the apostles had faith and followed Jesus unconditional.

From darkness they went into the light of faith (the dark clouds over the Egyptians <-> the rainbow of light over the Israelites). They repent and didn’t say anymore that they rather would like to work for the Egyptians than to die in the desert. Passing the Red Sea was like a baptism, the moment of conversion of the the souls of the Israelites. Finally the Israelites revered Yahweh and put their faith in Yahweh and Moses ... and followed him towards the promised country. Nothing is as trying to human mind as to have to depend on a miracle. No matter how many proofs of God’s power and faithfulness we receive, we feel extremely uncomfortable with the supernatural.

    The word “Boeten” in Flemish has two meanings: “doing penitence” but it also means “mending nets”: to repair, to restore, to revive, putting right, doing penitence. When Jesus is calling Peter and his brother Andrew, they were mending their nets. But now, like in the lectionary-holder in Xanten am Rhein, they will become fisher of men. Moses is mediator: time after time he has to mend the broken nets of faith of the people of Israel. Jesus, for who they leave everything behind, will make that they are becoming  those who will mend the broken nets between God and mankind.

    But we have always to start by ourselves. Even Peter is saying: “leave me, Lord, I am a sinful man.” In prayer, with repented and humble hearts we will be ready to proclaim and live the gospels and so becoming fisher of men. The call of God put us to a higher level:  Moses, a man who stumbled over his words is becoming leader, common fisher are becoming Fisher of Men. This is Opus Dei, collaborating with our own talents to achieve the work of God.

Crossing the Red Sea: Biagio di Antonio

Calling of the First Apostles: Ghirlandaio Domenico


   ★ Biblical description of the Crossing of the Red Sea

   ✤ On the left upper part: presence of recreational activity after prodigious intervention of the Lord

Ex 14:5-31 (also Deut. 9:1-25)

    ✤ On the centre: Moses is crossing the Red Sea;  In back is appearing a rainbow as symbol of Alliance of God and his people and a black cloud over the Egyptians

Ex. 14:5-31

5 When Pharaoh king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, he and his officials changed their attitude towards the people. 'What have we done,' they said, 'allowing Israel to leave our service?'6 So Pharaoh had his chariot harnessed and set out with his troops,7 taking six hundred of the best chariots and all the other chariots in Egypt, with officers in each.8 Yahweh made Pharaoh king of Egypt stubborn, and he gave chase to the Israelites. The Israelites marched confidently away,9 but the Egyptians, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, his horsemen and his army, gave chase and caught up with them where they lay encamped beside the sea near Pi-Hahiroth, facing Baal-Zephon.10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up -- and there were the Egyptians in pursuit of them! The Israelites were terrified and cried out to Yahweh for help.11 To Moses they said, 'Was it for lack of graves in Egypt, that you had to lead us out to die in the desert? What was the point of bringing us out of Egypt?12 Did we not tell you as much in Egypt? Leave us alone, we said, we would rather work for the Egyptians! We prefer to work for the Egyptians than to die in the desert!'13 Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid! Stand firm, and you will see what Yahweh will do to rescue you today: the Egyptians you see today you will never see again.14 Yahweh will do the fighting for you; all you need to do is to keep calm.'15 Yahweh then said to Moses, 'Why cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to march on.16 Your part is to raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, so that the Israelites can walk through the sea on dry ground,17 while I, for my part, shall make the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow them, and I shall win glory for myself at the expense of Pharaoh and all his army, chariots and horsemen.18 And when I have won glory for myself at the expense of Pharaoh and his chariots and horsemen, the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh.'19 Then the angel of God, who preceded the army of Israel, changed station and followed behind them. The pillar of cloud moved from their front and took position behind them.20 It came between the army of the Egyptians and the army of Israel. The cloud was dark, and the night passed without the one drawing any closer to the other the whole night long.21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and Yahweh drove the sea back with a strong easterly wind all night and made the sea into dry land. The waters were divided22 and the Israelites went on dry ground right through the sea, with walls of water to right and left of them.23 The Egyptians gave chase, and all Pharaoh's horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea after them.24 In the morning watch, Yahweh looked down on the army of the Egyptians from the pillar of fire and cloud and threw the Egyptian army into confusion.25 He so clogged their chariot wheels that they drove on only with difficulty, which made the Egyptians say, 'Let us flee from Israel, for Yahweh is fighting on their side against the Egyptians!'26 Then Yahweh said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand over the sea and let the waters flow back on the Egyptians and on their chariots and their horsemen.'27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and, as day broke, the sea returned to its bed. The fleeing Egyptians ran straight into it, and Yahweh overthrew the Egyptians in the middle of the sea.28 The returning waters washed right over the chariots and horsemen of Pharaoh's entire army, which had followed the Israelites into the sea; not a single one of them was left.29 The Israelites, however, had marched through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water to right and left of them.30 That day, Yahweh rescued Israel from the clutches of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the sea-shore.31 When Israel saw the mighty deed that Yahweh had performed against the Egyptians, the people revered Yahweh and put their faith in Yahweh and in Moses, his servant.

    ✤ On the Right beneath: The pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. The Israelites are protected by the Column of fire who scares the Egyptians.

Ex. 13:21-22

21 Yahweh preceded them, by day in a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could march by day and by night.22 The pillar of cloud never left its place ahead of the people during the day, nor the pillar of fire during the night.

   ✤ On the Right upper part: Moses and Aaron are begging the pharaoh to free the Israelites.

Ex. 7:1-3

1 Yahweh then said to Moses, 'Look, I have made you as a god for Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron is to be your prophet.2 You must say whatever I command you, and your brother Aaron will repeat to Pharaoh that he is to let the Israelites leave his country.3 But I myself shall make Pharaoh stubborn and shall perform many a sign and wonder in Egypt.

    ✤ On the Left in front: Myriam (sister of Aaron) plays hymn to thank the Lord

Ex. 15:20-21

20 The prophetess Miriam, Aaron's sister, took up a tambourine, and all the women followed her with tambourines, dancing,21 while Miriam took up from them the refrain: Sing to Yahweh, for he has covered himself in glory, horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.

    ★ Biblical description of the vocation of the first Apostles

    ✤ Overal: A serene lacustrine landscape around lake Genesareth or sea of Galilei

Luke 5:1-2

1 Now it happened that he was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God,2 when he caught sight of two boats at the water's edge. The fishermen had got out of them and were washing their nets.

    ✤ In the lake: John and James are fishing with their father Zebedeus

Mark 1:19-20 and Matt. 4:21-22

19 Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending the nets.20 At once he called them and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

    ✤ Behind Jesus: Peter and Andrew are taking their fishing nets in

Matt. 4:16-18

16 The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a country of shadow dark as death a light has dawned.17 From then onwards Jesus began his proclamation with the message, 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.'18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast into the lake with their net, for they were fishermen.

Luke 5:1-11

1 Now it happened that he was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God,2 when he caught sight of two boats at the water's edge. The fishermen had got out of them and were washing their nets.3 He got into one of the boats -- it was Simon's -- and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.4 When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, 'Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.'5 Simon replied, 'Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.'6 And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear,7 so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled both boats to sinking point.8 When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, 'Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.'9 For he and all his companions were completely awestruck at the catch they had made;10 so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. But Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid; from now on it is people you will be catching.'11 Then, bringing their boats back to land they left everything and followed him.

Mark 1:14-18

14 After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the gospel from God saying,15 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.'16 As he was walking along by the Lake of Galilee he saw Simon and Simon's brother Andrew casting a net in the lake -- for they were fishermen.

    ✤ In the centre: Jesus starts his teaching

Mark 1:21-22

21 They went as far as Capernaum, and at once on the Sabbath he went into the synagogue and began to teach.22 And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

   ✤ On the left of Jesus: Diotisalvi Neroni and with white beard: “literate of Constantinople”: both seeking refuge - on the left against the rocks: a young man crowned with a garland of flowers (ghirlanda) alludes to the nickname of the painter Domenico Bigordi known as Ghirlandaio. He was given the nickname because of the profession of his father, who weaved crowns and garlands as hair adornments for the young girls of Florence.

    ✤ On the Right: member of the Tornabuoni family