Lent with the Book of Exodus (Ch 17)
March 01, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Exodus 17 (Friday of the Second Week of Lent)


All the congregation of the children of Israel traveled from the wilderness of Sin, starting according to Yahweh’s commandment, and encamped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test Yahweh?”

The people were thirsty for water there; so the people murmured against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”

Moses cried to Yahweh, saying, “What shall I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

Yahweh said to Moses, “Walk on before the people, and take the elders of Israel with you, and take the rod in your hand with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because the children of Israel quarreled, and because they tested Yahweh, saying, “Is Yahweh among us, or not?”

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us, and go out to fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with God’s rod in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed. When he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy; so they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. His hands were steady until sunset. Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Yahweh said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky.” Moses built an altar, and called its name “Yahweh our Banner”. He said, “Yah has sworn: ‘Yahweh will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’”


We read in the Old Testament that, after the people of Israel left Egypt with Moses at their head, the Amalekites, a savage race, came and did battle against them. Moses sent an army against them, while he himself went up on to a mountain to pray for them and raised his hands to the Lord. And it came to pass that while he kept his hands raised, the people of Israel were triumphant but whenever he lowered his hands Amalek started to win. Why was it, do you think, that the raising of his hands possessed such grace? Without doubt God usually takes more account of the attachments of the mind than of the postures of the body.  Why was it then? Did his prayer have no effect before God unless he raised his hands? That lifting up of his hands had such an effect that their enemies could not withstand the Israelites. The reason why this lifting up of hands had such force was that it signified the raising of the hands of him who said in the psalm, The lifting up of my hands is like an evening sacrifice.  For, when evening had already come upon the world, his sweetest hands were stretched out on the Cross and there was offered up that evening sacrifice that took away the sins of the whole world.  So that raising of Moses’ hands signified the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ who went up on to a mountain to pray because he ascended into heaven to plead our cause with the Father. There he lifts up his hands so that Amalek – that is, the devil – will not be able to vanquish us. For there he appears in God’s sight on our behalf and represents to him the Passion that he underwent for us. As for us, brothers, as long as we are in this wretched life which is a trial upon earth, as long as our fight is against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of the dark things of the world, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens, we need to have our Lord lifting up his hands within us – that is to say, the remembrance of his Passion should be continually present in our minds. We can be quite sure, my brothers, that as long as the memory of his Passion is in our heart, as long as our hope is directed to where Christ is pleading our cause at the right hand of the Father, the spiritual Amalek – that is, the devil – will not be able to vanquish us. And therefore, my brothers, let us see that this attachment, this remembrance, does not through some negligence on our part grow lukewarm in us. For then we shall immediately grow faint and our enemy will gain the upper hand and cause us distress. (Aelred of Rievaulx)
Musical Selection
Confronted with destruction sure
In conflict dire with Amalek,
God’s servant climbed the h ill
There to survey his people’s trek;
And interceding without cease,
He pleaded with his people’s God.
The battle turned as sun went down,
The foeman beat into the sod.
Like unto this, a widow came
And justice sought from the wicked judge
Who neither God nor neighbor feared;
With ev’ry day, the little drudge
From woman’s brave and fearless chore
Of pleading, begging, wore him down.
To her was given justice due,
Although he did it with a frown.
Though time and circumstance combine,
Increasing each oppressive weight,
Our recompense from God will come
With justice sure, and not be late.
Be faithful, then, to what you’ve learned
By means of Scripture’s witness strong.
Preach now the Word—day in, day out—
“The Lord will come” must be our song!
Purify us, almighty God, by this holy practice of penance,
that with hearts made fresh and whole
we may advance toward the solemn feast of our redemption.
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.