Today’s first reading recounts the moment when the Israelites were freed by the Egyptian Pharaoh and left the land of their slavery while the Gospel shares Jesus healing people and references Isaiah Chapter 42. The first reading focuses on God’s deliverance of literally hundreds of thousands of people while the Gospel focuses on how God chose one man for the deliverance of literally every human being who has every lived or ever will live. Through Moses, God saved his chosen people from oppression and led them to the land of milk and honey. Through Jesus, God now saves us all from the oppression of our own sinfulness and from death itself to lead us into life everlasting.
As I was reflecting on the first reading, I noticed the author mentioned that 600,000 Israelites left Egypt that night, not counting children and those of mixed heritage. What would it look like today to have over 600,000 people leave their home? (Not even considering the fact that estimates are that there were only 1 or 2 billion people in the world at this time whereas now we have over 6 billion.) The closest my imagination could visualize was the evacuation of New Orleans in August 2005 for Hurricane Katrina. I hope and pray that this exodus of citizens will be the largest that I will ever see in my lifetime. Over 450,000 citizens left New Orleans that week. However, as mind-boggling large as the New Orleans disaster was, it does not compare in size to the exodus of Israel that night. We would need at least 1 and 1/2 the size of New Orleans to be equivalent to the exodus of Israel. Or, the entire population of Charleston, North Carolina. Or a community twice the size of my hometown of Omaha, NE. Where do you live? What proportion of your community would represent the Israelites that night?
This event was so large and so significant that Jews all over the world still celebrate this night every year, even now, thousands of years later. Because the passion and death of Jesus occurred on the Passover, Christians also mark this day every year. Will we remember Katrina even 6 years from now? 60 years? What about the 600,000 civilians that were killed in Iraq by October of 2006? Where will they go in the annals of history, in the annals of our mind?
And yet, the most amazing thing of all is not that God saved 600,000 people from slavery. It is that God cared and loved every single hair on the heads of every single one of them. God showed the Israelites just how much he loved them through the Passover and exodus. And, because of Jesus’ words and actions, you and I now know that God loved and delighted in not just each one of the Israelites, but also the Gentiles and the Pharisees and the Samaritans…..and so too for each person hurt by Katrina. And for each and every Iraqi. And for you and me.
God did not just tell Isaiah and Jesus, “Behold, (this is) my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight.” Though Jesus heard God speak these words of him both at his baptism and at his transfiguration, these words were not just intended for Jesus. Because of Moses, because of Isaiah, and especially because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we now know that God says this to each and every single one of us. Close your eyes and imagine God saying to you, “Behold! This is my servant whom I have chosen. This is my beloved in whom I delight!”
It’s true; you are God’s beloved in whom he takes incredible delight!
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook