Lent with the Book of Exodus (Ch 36)
March 20, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
Exodus 36 (Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent)

“Bezalel and Oholiab shall work with every wise-hearted man, in whom Yahweh has put wisdom and understanding to know how to do all the work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that Yahweh has commanded.”

Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab, and every wise-hearted man, in whose heart Yahweh had put wisdom, even everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to the work to do it. They received from Moses all the offering which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the sanctuary, with which to make it. They kept bringing free will offerings to him every morning. All the wise men, who performed all the work of the sanctuary, each came from his work which he did. They spoke to Moses, saying, “The people have brought much more than enough for the service of the work which Yahweh commanded to make.”

Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman make anything else for the offering for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient to do all the work, and too much.

All the wise-hearted men among those who did the work made the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, blue, purple, and scarlet. They made them with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman. The length of each curtain was twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits. All the curtains had one measure. He coupled five curtains to one another, and the other five curtains he coupled to one another. He made loops of blue on the edge of the one curtain from the edge in the coupling. Likewise he made in the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the second coupling. He made fifty loops in the one curtain, and he made fifty loops in the edge of the curtain that was in the second coupling. The loops were opposite to one another. He made fifty clasps of gold, and coupled the curtains to one another with the clasps: so the tabernacle was a unit.

He made curtains of goats’ hair for a covering over the tabernacle. He made them eleven curtains. The length of each curtain was thirty cubits, and four cubits the width of each curtain. The eleven curtains had one measure. He coupled five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves. He made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the coupling, and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain which was outermost in the second coupling. He made fifty clasps of bronze to couple the tent together, that it might be a unit. He made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of sea cow hides above.

He made the boards for the tabernacle of acacia wood, standing up. Ten cubits was the length of a board, and a cubit and a half the width of each board. Each board had two tenons, joined to one another. He made all the boards of the tabernacle this way. He made the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards for the south side southward. He made forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards: two sockets under one board for its two tenons, and two sockets under another board for its two tenons. For the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side, he made twenty boards and their forty sockets of silver: two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. For the far part of the tabernacle westward he made six boards. He made two boards for the corners of the tabernacle in the far part. They were double beneath, and in the same way they were all the way to its top to one ring. He did this to both of them in the two corners. There were eight boards and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets—under every board two sockets.

He made bars of acacia wood: five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the tabernacle for the hinder part westward. He made the middle bar to pass through in the middle of the boards from the one end to the other. He overlaid the boards with gold, and made their rings of gold as places for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold.

He made the veil of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cherubim. He made it the work of a skillful workman. He made four pillars of acacia for it, and overlaid them with gold. Their hooks were of gold. He cast four sockets of silver for them. He made a screen for the door of the tent, of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of an embroiderer; and the five pillars of it with their hooks. He overlaid their capitals and their fillets with gold, and their five sockets were of bronze.

What then is that tabernacle not made with hands which was shown to Moses on the mountain and to which he was commanded to look as to an archetype so that he might reproduce it in a handmade structure? God said, See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. Of what things not made with hands are these an imitation? And what benefit does the material imitation of those things Moses saw there convey to those who look at it? 
Taking a hint from what has been said by Paul, who partially uncovered the mystery of these things, we say that Moses was earlier instructed by a type in the mystery of the tabernacle which encompasses the universe. This tabernacle would be Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God, who in his own nature was not made with hands, yet capable of being made when it became necessary for this tabernacle to be erected among us. Thus, the same tabernacle is in a way both unfashioned and fashioned, uncreated in pre-existence but created in having received this material composition. This one is the Only Begotten God, who encompasses everything in himself but who also pitched his own tabernacle among us.
Whenever the prophet looks to the tabernacle above, he sees the heavenly realities through these symbols. But if one should look at the tabernacle below, since in many places the Church also is called Christ by Paul, he would see the Church. In this tabernacle both the sacrifice of praise and the incense of prayer are seen offered continually at morning and evening. The great David allows us to perceive these things when he directs the incense of his prayer in an odour of sweetness to God, performing his sacrifice through the lifting up of his hands. 
The skin dyed red and the coverings made of hair, which add to the decoration of the tabernacle, are perceived respectively as the mortification of the sinful flesh and the ascetic way of life. By these the tabernacle of the church is especially beautified. By nature these skins do not have in themselves a vital power, but they become bright red because of the red dye. This teaches that grace, which flourishes through the Spirit, is not found in men unless they first make themselves dead to sin. Whether or not Scripture signifies by the red dye chaste modesty, I leave for whoever wishes to decide. The woven hair, which produced a fabric rough and hard to the touch, foreshadows the self-control which is rough and consumes the habitual passions. The life of virginity demonstrates in itself all such things, as it chastises the flesh of all those who live this way. 
If the interior, which is called the Holy of Holies, is not accessible to the multitude, let us not think that this is at variance with the sequence of what has been perceived. For the truth of reality is truly a holy thing, a holy of holies, and is incomprehensible and inaccessible to the multitude. Since it is set in the secret and ineffable areas of the tabernacle of mystery, the apprehension of the realities above comprehension should not be meddled with; one should rather believe that they do exist and that they remain in the secret and ineffable areas of the intelligence. (Gregory of Nyssa)
Musical Selection
Terribilis est locus iste:
hic domus Dei est et porta caeli:
et vocabitur aula Dei.

Ps. Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine virtutum,
concupiscit et deficit anima mea in atria Domini.  Glori Patri...
Terrible is this place:
it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven;
and it shall be called the court of God.

Ps. How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts,
my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord.  Glory be to the Father...
God of loving-kindness,
enlighten the hearts of your children,
who are cleansed by Lenten penance.
Be not deaf to our prayer,
for it is you who awaken within us
the very desire to serve you.
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.