Daily Reflection
July 17th, 1999
Joan Howard
University College
Exodus 12:37-42
Psalm 136
Matthew 12:14-21
In the words of the auto "experts" Click and Clack, another puzzler!

It occurred to me that if these three readings were presented to someone who was completely unfamiliar with scripture and totally unknowing of Christ, as an introduction to our God, they would most likely be very confused - to say the least.  What would they think?

The first reading refers to the 430 years of waiting, the vigil of the Israelites for the Lord.  The vigil ends with their being "driven out of Egypt" with little in the way of material support.  In the Psalm we see the fierce protective power of the Lord over the Israelites at the expense of the Pharaoh.   Although God rescued the Israelites, he struck "through their (Egypt) firstborn."  He divided the Red Sea for the Israelites, "but overthrew Pharaoh and his army…"

In Matthew’s gospel we see a very different side of this God.  Although the enemy is still in pursuit, the response is very different.  Jesus keeps a much lower profile than does the God of the Israelites who openly  provokes the Pharaoh.  When the Pharisees begin to close in, Jesus "departs."  Rather than inciting the enemy, "He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets."  "Many crowds follow him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known."

Is this the same God who unmercifully provoked the Egyptians?  What is the difference?  Why is this Jesus apparently a calmer, gentler God?

I think the clue may be in the Spirit.  "Here is my servant (Jesus), whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.  I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles."  This Jesus, although God, was a very real human person.  He experienced the same fears, joys, love and sorrows as we all do.  The difference is that he was intimately aware of the Spirit within him and he chose to respond in love to that Spirit.  He responded in love, not only to his followers, but also to his enemies.  He chose to cure, rather than to destroy.  Jesus always responds out of Love for the Father.

God has demonstrated his power in Scripture.  We have experienced it in nature.  In Jesus we see the personification of the love of the Father sent in the Spirit.  In faith we know we are children of God.  We know the Spirit  dwells within each one.  Like Jesus, we also can choose to respond to the Spirit in love.  It is only through our faith that we can solve the puzzler.

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