All this week the first scripture for daily Mass has been an excerpt from the Old Testament Book of Exodus.
The Book of Exodus describes the extraordinary events that led to the liberation of the Israelites from the oppressive power of the false gods of the Egyptians. The God of Israel defeated these false gods and ended the slavery of the Israelites.
Today’s scripture from the Book of Exodus gives an account of the Israelites’ first taste of freedom, a taste that is marked and remembered in the celebration of a sacred meal called Passover, during which faithful Israelites recall the victory of God and the liberation of their ancestors from bondage to false gods.
The victory of God over the false gods of the Egyptians and the sacred meal of Passover are understood by the Church to be anticipations of Christ, both indicating his victory over the powers of sin, death and the devil on the cross. The reality of Christ’s victory is not just marked and remembered, but really and truly given to us in the sacred meal of his Body and his Blood called the Eucharist. In our participation in the Eucharist we participate in the victory of God in Christ and his triumph over sin, death and the devil is offered to us as his gift.
What the Passover expressed in shadows; the Eucharist expresses in the fullness of light. While the Passover suggests God in Christ to us; the Eucharist gives us God in Christ himself. What the Passover offers in symbols; the Eucharist gives us in reality.
Today’s Gospel speaks about resistance to Christ- a resistance that expresses itself in wanting Christ dead.
It is chilling to hear that some people deliberately sought to put the Lord Jesus to death, but it was true. The reasons for this terrifying resistance to Christ are many. We should not lose ourselves is speculations as to why others resisted or betrayed Christ and in doing so pay little or no attention to the resistance and betrayals of Christ that we have ourselves perpetrated against him.
Our own resistance and betrayals of Christ are likely far less dramatic than those described in the Scriptures, but they are just as real.
Our resistance to Christ happens when his overtures of love are met with indifference and his commandments are met with a refusal to change. Christ does not suffer physically in the body of his human nature anymore, but his sacred heart aches for us, because in our refusals of God, we are diminished and the consequences are many times impossible for us to bear. Despite all appearances of worldly accomplishment or success, none of us can ever be fully alive or fully ourselves in our refusals of Christ or in our resistance to his commandments.
Despite that his love for us is so often unrequited and his commandments so often rejected, God in Christ still loves us and offers us the possibility of reconciliation. Remember, Christ’s last word to those who had hurt him so terribly was forgiveness. His invitation to those who has betrayed him was to accept the gift of another chance.
It is Christ’s indomitable love for us, a love that seeks communion with us despite our refusals that should inspire in each of us a profound hope for, rather than just fear for our salvation. Christ identifies himself as the “Suffering Servant” and this indicates that he does not meet the sinner who comes to him with a desire to be saved with recrimination and retribution, but with compassion and mercy.
The love of God in Christ is given to us in the Church’s Sacraments and reconciliation with God in Christ is possible for us in the Sacrament of Penance. In that Sacrament we can hear for ourselves Christ’s own word of forgiveness and receive from him his gift of another chance.