Today's Readings: Look Them Up!
Also, look up the bible references that are sprinkled throughout today's reflection
In our Old Testament Reading from the Prophecy of Isaiah we see that the Suffering Servant, obviously referring to Jesus, does not rebel against his divine vocation. He willingly submits to 'insults and beatings; to buffets and spitting'. The Servant says, "I have set my face like flint..", indicating that he moves forward resolutely toward his vocation. In Luke's gospel, Chptr 9, we read that Jesus knew the time had come for him to be taken up, so "he set his face toward Jerusalem." Once again, this prophet's writings 500 years before Jesus, looked forward to what Jesus would do for us.
Psalm 69 also refers to what Jesus went through; "they put gall in my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."
Our Gospel today refers again to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a week-long festival initiated by God when he instructed the Hebrew people to rid their homes of yeast as a symbol of ridding their lives of sin. At the time of Jesus, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and The Feast of Passover are celebrated together by faithful Jews in the city of Jerusalem. Since Jesus' divine mission was to fulfill these feasts, he 'set his face toward Jerusalem' and entered the city.
The Passover Meal was the setting for the Last Supper, which is celebrated on Holy Thursday. We will look at that more closely tomorrow. For now, we must look back to the time of Moses and the Exodus experience to see the parallels between those events and the actions of Jesus.
For 400 years in Egypt the Hebrew people had assimilated into the Egyptian culture, worshiping the Egyptian gods, and forgetting their God. Each of the Egyptian gods had a name. Before Moses accepted God's call to deliver the Hebrews from the bondge of slavery, he asked God what His name was so he could identify which God had sent him. Through Moses,God initiated plagues. Each plague "executed judgement on the gods of Egypt" (Exodus 12:12). Several examples:
Ra, the god of the sun; was dark for 3 days
Hapi, the Nile River god; turned to blood
Geb or Nut, the god of the earth; the dust of the earth turned into gnats
Apis, the cow god symbolizing strength; the plague of pestilence killed all cows
Pharaoh - Head of all Egyptian gods; 10th plague -The Passover of the Lord - first-born killed by the Angel of Death. This included the son of Pharaoh.
With each plague the God of the Hebrews proved to be more powerful than the gods of Egypt. He proved this to both the Egyptians and to the Hebrews.
God used Moses to deliver the people from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. Jesus came to deliver all people from the bondage of slavery to sin. Moses was a foreshadowing of Jesus, and Jesus is the New Moses.
Let's look at some of the similarities between Moses and Jesus:
Moses - Pharaoh killed Hebrew baby boys - God preserved Moses
Jesus - Herod killed Jewish baby boys - God preserved Jesus
Moses - Found safety in Egypt - A Prince of Egypt for 40 years
Jesus - Joseph took Mary and the child to Egypt for safety
"Out of Egypt I Called My Son" (Hosea 11:1 - the first born son represents the Israelites. In Matthew 2:15 the firstborn son represents Jesus)
Moses - Returned to his birthplace to live out his vocation from God
Jesus - Returned from Egypt to his birthplace (IPalestine) to live out his divine vocation
Moses - The water of the Nile River, 'and all the stone jars' in Egypt, turned to blood (Exodus 7:19)
Jesus - At Cana, Jesus turned the water in the stone jars into wine. At the Last Supper, Jesus turned the wine to blood.
When we look at these passages together, we see water turned to blood; water turned to wine; wine turned to blood.
Moses - through Moses, God gave the Hebrew people Manna, bread from Heaven
Jesus - "Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died. I am the bread that came down from heaven that one will eat and never die" (John 6:49-51)
Moses - God used Moses to give the people water from the rock in the desert
Jesus - "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says; 'Rivers of living water will flow from within him.'" (John 7:37-38)
Moses - Moses' face was radiant when he met God on the mountain (Exodus 34:27-35)
Jesus - Transfiguration on the mountain - Jesus was radiant with glory (Matthew 17:1-8)
Moses - Spent 40 years wandering through the desert and being tested.
Jesus - Spent 40 days in the desert being tested at the beginning of his ministry.
The number 40 in scripture always means preparation, and the desert always indicates testing. As a faith community, we are in the desert now. The desert is the place that tests our faith. We need to continue to encourage one another in that faith, and trust that God will lead us through our desert!
Moses - Arrived at the Jordan River after 40 years in the desert. He climbed Mt. Nebo and looked upon the Jordan River and the promised land. Moses died there, and never entered the promised land.
Jesus - After 40 days in the desert, he was baptized in the Jordan River and began his ministry in the promised land. Jesus picked up where Moses left off.
These are important parallels for us to understand as we prepare to celebrate the Triduum, and look more deeply into the events that will unfold over the next 4 days.
Thank you for spending this time together in the Word of God, and watching the climax of Salvation History unfold!
May Christ fill you with his peace during this most Holy Week.
Your Friend in Christ,