Saturday, July 18, 2009

Behold My Servant, Whom I Have Chosen, My Beloved In Whom I Delight!

Exodus 12:37-42

The children of Israel set out from Rameses for Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting the women and children. A crowd of mixed ancestry also went up with them, besides their livestock, very numerous flocks and herds. Since the dough they had brought out of Egypt was not leavened, they baked it into unleavened loaves.They had rushed out of Egypt and had no opportunity even to prepare food for the journey.

The time the children of Israel had stayed in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. At the end of four hundred and thirty years,all the hosts of the LORD left the land of Egypt on this very date. This was a night of vigil for the LORD,as he led them out of the land of Egypt;so on this same night all the children of Israel must keep a vigil for the LORD throughout their generations.


From the time Jacob, the father of Joseph, and his brothers with their families settled in Egypt, four hundred and thirty years passed until that holy night when the LORD told Moses to lead them to the land of promise. There were about six hundred thousand men of Israel in that caravan, as well as women and children. There were also many other people who joined them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. To feed themselves the baked cakes of unleavened bread with dough they brought with them. The dough was without yeast, since they did not have time to prepare food for themselves when they left Egypt.

Imagine that you were one of the children of Israel who accompanied Moses on that journey. As you entered the wilderness, you looked back, and saw the land of Egypt disappear on the horizon. You had escaped from the power of Pharaoh, but now your life was endangered in a new way. You have no idea what lies ahead, or where food and water are to be found.

The Israelites, when they fled from Egypt into the Sinai desert, were well aware that they were repeating the “faith journey” God asked of Abraham several generations before. The children of Israel put their trust in God, and eventually reached the Promised Land. From a spiritual perspective, each of us is called to make a similar “journey of faith.” It took them forty years to reach the banks of the Jordan, a distance caravans of camels travel in a week’s time, because they tended to look back to the place where they had been slaves, but well fed, rather than forward to a land unknown where they were being led.

On your faith journey, keep in mind the counsel of Saint Augustine, who eventually learned to follow where the Holy Spirit was leading him:
Trust the past, to God's mercy,
the present, to God's love, and
the future, to God's providence.

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Matthew 12:14-21
The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place. Many people followed him, and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.


Today Jesus encourages secrecy as he continues to fulfill the prophet Isaiah’s words. These words characterize the role of Jesus: we have Jesus healing, and being followed by multitudes, while the Pharisees were plotting against him. Matthew says: ‘He healed them all, yet he warned them not to make him known’. It seems like Jesus was a bit of a rebel. He clearly grasped the situation, knowing full well the need to be on the move and try to maintain secrecy.

It seems to indicate an attitude worth adopting. Like Jesus, we should aim to fulfill our role in the Christian story, and maybe our role is similar to that of the multitudes at that time, where ideas of faith and support are required.

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