Lent with the Book of Exodus (Ch 13)
February 26, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
Exodus 13 (Monday of the Second Week of Lent)

Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Sanctify to me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of animal. It is mine.”

Moses said to the people, “Remember this day, in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand Yahweh brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. Today you go out in the month Abib. It shall be, when Yahweh brings you into the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to Yahweh. Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and no leavened bread shall be seen with you. No yeast shall be seen with you, within all your borders. You shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘It is because of that which Yahweh did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ It shall be for a sign to you on your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that Yahweh’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand Yahweh has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.

“It shall be, when Yahweh brings you into the land of the Canaanite, as he swore to you and to your fathers, and will give it you, that you shall set apart to Yahweh all that opens the womb, and every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have. The males shall be Yahweh’s. Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and you shall redeem all the firstborn of man among your sons. It shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ that you shall tell him, ‘By strength of hand Yahweh brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, Yahweh killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of livestock. Therefore I sacrifice to Yahweh all that opens the womb, being males; but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ It shall be for a sign on your hand, and for symbols between your eyes; for by strength of hand Yahweh brought us out of Egypt.”

When Pharaoh had let the people go, God didn’t lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt”; but God led the people around by the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea; and the children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the children of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones away from here with you.” They took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. Yahweh went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, that they might go by day and by night: the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, didn’t depart from before the people.

Just as the Jews were saved and extricated through the waters of the Red Sea, so we are delivered from the land of Egypt, that is, from the sins of the flesh, and reborn through regeneration by the sacred water. The very name of the Red Sea is not superfluous. Just as it is known as Red, so the baptismal water can be labeled red, for it came forth mixed with blood from the Lord Savior’s side. (Cassiodorus Senator)
It was also fitting that a pillar of fire preceded the Israelites as they progressed through the desert during the night and a pillar of a cloud during the day. There is dread in fire but a gentle soothing quality in the sight of a cloud. “Day” is understood to point toward the life of the righteous and “night” that of the sinner. Hence Paul said to sinners who had been converted, “You were once darkness but are now light in the Lord.” The pillar was revealed as a cloud during the day and as a fire during the night since almighty God will appear soothing to the righteous and dreadful to the unrighteous. When he comes at the judgment, he will reassure the former by his gentleness and mildness and cause dread in the latter by the strictness of his justice. (Gregory the Great)
The freeing of the children of Israel and their being brought out into the fatherland once promised them is also linked with the mystery of our redemption. By means of it we make our way to the light of the dwelling place on high with the grace of Christ lighting our way and guiding us. That cloud and column of fire that both protected them throughout the whole of their journey from the darkness of the nights and led them by a sure path to the promised homes of the fatherland also prefigured the light of this grace. (Bede the Venerable)
Musical Selection (Carl Schalk)
Paschal Lamb who suffered for us,
Sheepgate guarding all your sheep,
Let us hear your voice which summons
Each of us, God’s will to keep.
Dead to sin through your great mercy,
By your wounds we are made whole;
You have gathered us from straying,
O great Shepherd of our souls.
Guide and guard us through our suff’rings,
Let us hear you call our name,
Knowing you as our Messiah
Who, for us, bore cross and shame.
In your vict’ry make us sharers;
Lead us now through sin and strife
That we all who share one Baptism
Safe may pass from death to life.

Ever-faithful God,
for the healing of our souls
you teach us to discipline our bodies by penance.
Give us the grace to abstain from all sin
and to accept the demands that your love makes upon us.
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.