Lent with the Book of Exodus (Ch 11)
February 24, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
Exodus 11 (Saturday of the First Week of Lent)

Yahweh said to Moses, “I will bring yet one more plague on Pharaoh, and on Egypt; afterwards he will let you go. When he lets you go, he will surely thrust you out altogether. Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man ask of his neighbor, and every woman of her neighbor, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold.” Yahweh gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people.

Moses said, “This is what Yahweh says: ‘About midnight I will go out into the middle of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the mill, and all the firstborn of livestock. There will be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been, nor will be any more. But against any of the children of Israel a dog won’t even bark or move its tongue, against man or animal, that you may know that Yahweh makes a distinction between the Egyptians and Israel. All these servants of yours will come down to me, and bow down themselves to me, saying, “Get out, with all the people who follow you;” and after that I will go out.’” He went out from Pharaoh in hot anger.

Yahweh said to Moses, “Pharaoh won’t listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, but Yahweh hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he didn’t let the children of Israel go out of his land.

The Egyptians' free will caused all these things according to the preceding principle, and the impartial justice of God followed their free choices and brought upon them what they deserved. As we follow closely the reading of the text at hand, let us not draw the conclusion that these distresses upon those who deserved them came directly from God, but rather let us observe that each man makes his own plagues when through his own free will he inclines toward these painful experiences. The Apostle says the same thing when talking to such a person: Your stubborn refusal to repent is only adding to the anger God will have toward you on that day of anger when his just judgments will be made known. He will repay each one as his works deserve.
What we are describing is like some destructive and bilious humor which arises in the intestines
because of a dissipated life. When the physician induces vomiting by his medicines, he does not become the cause of the sickness in the body, but on the contrary it is disorderly eating habits which bring it about; medical knowledge only brought it into the open. In the same way, even if one says that painful retribution comes directly from God upon those who abuse their free will, it would only be reasonable to note that such sufferings have their origin and cause in ourselves. 

To the one who has lived without sin there is no darkness, no worm, no Gehenna, no fire, nor any other of these fearful names and things, as indeed the history goes on to say that the plagues of Egypt were not meant for the Hebrews. Since then in the same place evil comes to one but not to the other, the difference of free choices distinguishing each from the other, it is evident that nothing evil can come into existence apart from our free choice.
How would a concept worthy of God be preserved in the description of what happened if one looked only to the history? The Egyptian acts unjustly, and in his place is punished his newborn child, who in his infancy cannot discern what is good and what is not. His life has no experience of evil, for infancy is not capable of passion. He does not know to distinguish between his right hand and his left. The infant lifts his eyes only to his mother's nipple, and tears are the sole perceptible sign of his sadness. And if he obtains anything which his nature desires, he signifies his pleasure by smiling. If such a one now pays the penalty of his father's wickedness, where is justice? Where is piety? Where is holiness? Where is Ezekiel, who cries: The man who has sinned is the man who must die and a son is not to suffer for the sins of his father?

How can the history so contradict reason? Therefore, as we look for the true spiritual meaning, seeking to determine whether the events took place typologically, we should be prepared to believe that the lawgiver has taught through the things said. The teaching is this: When through virtue one comes to grips with any evil, he must completely destroy the first beginnings of evil. (Gregory of Nyssa)
Musical Selection (John Stainer)
God so loved the world God so loved the world That he gave his only begotten Son That whoso believeth, believeth in him Should not perish, should not perish But have everlasting life
For God sent not his Son into the world To condemn the world; God sent not his Son into the world To condemn the world; But that the world through him might be saved 
God so loved the world God so loved the world That he gave his only begotten Son That whoso believeth, believeth in him Should not perish, should not perish But have everlasting life, everlasting life Everlasting, everlasting life
God so loved the world God so loved the world God so loved the world.
Eternal Father,
turn our hearts back to you,
that we may commit our lives to your praise and service,
seeking always the one thing necessary
and providing for the needs of others.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.