Scripture: Lectionary 393. Exodus 11:10–12: 1-14. Psalm 116:12-13k,15-16, 17-18. Matthew 12:1-8:
It is always worthwhile to meditate on the ritual festivity of the Exodus which is called Pesach (Passover). It helps us to understand how closely we are dependent in our own liturgical celebration of the Mass on the foundation of how Jesus celebrated the Passover on the night before he died. We see the elements of it reflected in the Synoptic Gospels in their approach to the Passion Narrative.
What struck me at once was the sentence in today’s first reading: “It is the Passover of the Lord!” We have the insight into the Exodus that this happened on the tenth month which would be called Nisan and on the fourteenth day. It served then as a new liturgical year for the Jewish people. The word “Nisan” comes from the Babylonian calendar. At first, months were indicated by numerals much as we do on our communications or letters and emails, e.g., today is 7/17/13 as I put this anticipated reflection for a day or two ahead of time as was requested by readers who wish to see the next day’s readings ahead of time.
All of the rituals surrounding the festival are given in chapter 12 of Exodus. They are important for our own understanding of the Eucharist and the actions that Jesus performed at the anticipated Passover that he shared with his disciples (apostles).
Freedom from slavery to Egypt becomes the center of the family celebration of this at the Seder or family celebration of Passover.
The symbolism of Jesus as the Lamb of God in John’s Gospel and in the Book of Revelation stem from our passage in our first reading. One gropes in darkness in reading the Book of Revelation if one has not read the Old Testament book of Exodus and the prophets. It is a book of signs and symbolic language that may actually be a liturgical work reflecting on Jesus in the Eucharist as the Paschal Lamb. Many years ago I saw a doctoral student put his dissertation into action by having his readers sit around a table filled with the fruits of the earth and all that was on the table of the Passover meal. He had a living example of the how to interpret the book of Revelation. The whole and central message of the whole book as David Barr mentions is “To Worship God Alone.”
“The Jewish calendar is the Jewish catechism.” (Hirsch). Passover is the birthday of the Chosen People of God who are free as sons and daughters of the Lord. Passover symbolizes God’s special love for the Jewish people and their ultimate destiny—God.
Perhaps, we can take time out today to read a chapter from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) today. It will help you and me to understand the New Testament. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.