Tag Archives: passover

Leviticus 23:

Feast Days / Festivals (Lev. 23):
Leviticus 23 deals with the Feast Days, Holy Days and the Festivals.  From the Holiness Code, we move to time itself is holy.  God’s calendar follows a liturgical cycle of holiness marked by Sabbaths and Feast Days, much like the Catholic liturgical calendar does today. The first is the Sabbath, the 7th day of the week when no work could be done.  A day of rest dedicated to the Lord.  There is no Near Eastern equivalent to the Sabbath in other cultures or religions.  It is unique to the Israelites.  Sabbath is originally in Genesis associated with God’s rest on the 7th day after creating everything.  Now, here in Moses it is also associated with deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. Israel is made a “new creation” and can now rest from its bondage and servitude in Egypt.  Next, Passover is the first Spring feast on the 14th of Nisan. Unleavened Bread is a 7-day festival associated with Passover, from 15th – 21st of Nisan.  First Fruits is a harvest festival from 16th of Nisan or the first Sunday after the Passover Sabbath.  Pentecost is the Grain Harvest Festival 7-weeks and one day (or, 50 days) after the First Fruits.  The First Fall Festival begins with Rosh HaShanah, or New Year’s Day.  This is the Feast of Trumpets or “Yom Teruah” on 1 Tishri.  This is followed by Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, on 10 Tishri.  The final Fall Festival is the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles (“Sukkot”).  This is the final fall harvest festival from 15-22 Tishri.  Many associate the Spring Feasts as prophetic announcements and fulfillments about Jesus’ First Coming, already fulfilled.  Similarly, the Fall Feasts are considered by many to be prophetic announcements of Jesus’ Second Coming, yet to be fulfilled.  Thus, the Passover was fulfilled in Jesus’ death on the Cross.  Unleavened Bread was fulfilled in the Eucharist and the Mass.  The Jewish Pentecost was fulfilled in the Christian Pentecost with the Holy Spirit and the beginnings of the Church.  The Fall Feasts will then be fulfilled the Feast of Trumpets (Jesus’ Second Coming), the Day of Atonement (Final Judgment), and Tabernacles (a new heaven and new earth into eternity).

The Intercommunion Controversy and Exodus – August 13, 2018

The German bishops are keeping at it. They are pushing the controversial agenda of intercommunion in certain instances for “mixed marriages” of Catholics with Protestant spouses. Accordingly, the German bishops published guidelines entitled: “Walking with Christ – tracing unity. Inter-denominational marriages and sharing the Eucharist.” It was released even after Pope Francis had sent a letter, via Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) Archbishop Luis Ladaria, S.J. to Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German Bishop’s Conference, in order to stop its publication. The guidelines argue that Protestant spouses should be allowed to receive the Eucharist, because it may cause “grave spiritual distress” to the spouse and the marriage if they are not permitted to do so. The German bishops plan to continue pushing the measure at the bishop’s conference plenary assembly in September.

However, as Cardinal Gerhard Muller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has argued, interdenominational marriage “does not represent a situation of ‘grave and pressing need.'” He further reflected: “Whoever wants to receive the sacramental Body and Blood of Christ must already be integrated into the body of Christ, which is the Church, through the confession of faith and sacramental baptism. Thus, there is no mystical, individualistic, and emotional communion with Christ that can thought of apart from baptism and the Church membership.” This follows the guidelines of the Catechism: “Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, ‘have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders.’ It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible.” (CCC 1400) Or, in other words, only a person who is in full communion with the Catholic faith is permitted to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

Then, there is the question of Canon Law 844, paragraph 4, which “provides for the giving of Holy Communion to a non-Catholic who has no access to his own minister and who manifests the Catholic faith, if he is in danger of death, or in the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop or Conference of Bishops, another grave necessity warrants it.” The German bishops are using this as a kind of sacramental loophole. Yet, as Cardinal Raymond Burke points out, this exception is meant specifically for emergency, near-death situations. He recommends revising this paragraph, because of “its lack of clarity which has led to many contradictory practices in the matter of ‘intercommunion.'”

There are other, older, antecedents found in scripture to this idea of intercommunion. The Book of Exodus sheds light on the present controversy regarding the Paschal mystery. After all, the Paschal mystery originated in Exodus, as a sketch of things to come. After the original Passover, the Israelites were permitted to leave Egypt. Yet, it was not just the Jews who departed but: “A mixed multitude also went up with them.” (Ex. 12:38) Like the present controversy involving “mixed marriages,” the Israelites came out of Egypt as a “mixed multitude,” meaning they were not all practicing Jews. They were outside the Israelites’ covenantal bonds with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was at the dramatic scene at Mount Sinai that the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were established as annual, obligatory feasts as part of the Covenant. Later, apparently, some of the non-Jews of the mixed multitude, in the midst of the Israelite congregation, wanted to partake also of the Passover lamb and Unleavened Bread – prefigurements to the Eucharist and the Mass. How would Yahweh respond?

Yahweh declares: “no foreigner shall eat of it.” (Ex. 12:43) No foreigner, meaning no one outside of the covenantal seal, shall partake of it. If someone does want to partake in the Passover, Yahweh tells them to be “circumcised, then he may come near and keep it.” That is, He tells them to become Jews and observe the commands of the Law, to worship God “as a native of the land.” Basically, God tells the mixed multitude to convert and join the covenant. Only then, can they participate. God is adamant that there will be “one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” Yahweh does not give allowance for anyone outside the covenantal relationship.

Yahweh further declares: “In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth any of the flesh outside the house.” Just as none of the Passover meal should be eaten outside of the Jewish house, so too, the Eucharist should not be carried outside of the one holy Catholic Church. Even if one is baptized, the seal of the New Covenant (like circumcision in the Old), as Protestants are, the Eucharistic prerogative remains: it shall be eaten in one house, and none of its flesh shall be taken outside the house, that is, the faith of the Church. Communion should be given only to Catholics within the one Catholic Church.

This is the Fathers’ interpretation too. St. Cyprian said of this verse: “The flesh of Christ and the holy thing of the Lord cannot be cast out. The faithful have no home but the one church.” And: “The faith of the divine Scripture manifests that the church is not outside and that it cannot be rent in two or divided against itself, but that it holds the unity of an inseparable and invisible house. It is written concerning the rite of the Passover: “It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of its flesh outside the house.” St. Jerome likewise wrote, “All such efforts are only of use when they are made within the church’s pale. We must celebrate the Passover in the one house.” In other words, St. Jerome confirms the parallelism of the Passover as the Mass, and the one house as the Catholic Church.

The prefiguring shadow of the Eucharist inundated the Israelites throughout their wilderness wanderings. God was not subtle with His symbology. When the Israelites were hungry in the Sinai wilderness, God rained down bread from heaven for them to eat for forty years. When the Israelites saw it, they said, “What is it?” And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” Later, the Israelites murmured against God and Moses saying “we loathe this worthless food.” In response, “the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.” If God punished such murmurings against perishable manna, how then can non-Catholics be allowed to partake in the new manna of the Holy Eucharist while deeming it “worthless food?”

In His Bread of Life discourse, the new Moses, Jesus, addressed directly a similar grumbling. He said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever.” Some of the disciples murmured against the Eucharist saying, “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?” Yet, Jesus did not soften His speech, rather He declared more forcefully: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Jesus forced the issue: “Do you take offense at this?” His disciples had to decide whether it was “worthless food” or not. There is no middle ground to the Real Presence. Many could not accept it, for after this “many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.” It is immediately following this episode too, perhaps not coincidentally, that Judas is revealed as Jesus’ betrayer. Indeed, the Real Presence is pivotal to the faith.

As Catholics receiving the Eucharist, we can answer the Israelites’ question from the desert, “what is it?” with rather another question, “who” is it? We can affirm, “It is our Jesus.” The psalmist wrote, “Man ate of the bread of the angels.” If this was just a shadowy wisp of the reality to come, how much holier is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in our new manna? How can the German bishops allow admittance to the Bread of Life by those who also deny it? As St. Paul addressed the gravity of this situation: “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” Instead of catering to emotions and false-ecumenicalism, the German bishops should affirm the sacredness of the sacrament and invite them to a conversion of faith.

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Exodus 12-15:

The Passover Ritual of the Sacrificed Lamb:
Yahweh prescribes the ritual for the Passover: on the tenth of the month of “Abib,” later known by the Babylonian name of “Nisan,” (this day, in the March-April timeframe, would now mark the beginning of the Jewish liturgical calendar) each family should procure a lamb, which “must be a year old male and without blemish.” (Ex. 12:5)  Yahweh is again instructing the Israelites to slaughter a god of the Egyptians, such as the ram-headed god Khnum.  This may have played a role in the Israelites overcoming a psychological barrier to their liberation.  By sacrificing one of the Egyptian gods (ie, a lamb), they psychologically prepared themselves to stand up against a collective 400 history of slave mentality. Each family should “take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb.  That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.” (Ex. 12:7-8)  The exodus covenant is sealed in blood.

Eat the Flesh of the Lamb:
“Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord.  The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 12:11-13)  The blood on the door is “a sign” for us, not God, to assure us that He will spare the Israelites despite the death happening all around them.  The Bible states five times that they must “eat” the flesh of the lamb. The Passover ritual would not be complete until they ate the flesh of the lamb.  So, it was not enough just to sacrifice the lamb, they also had to eat it entirely.  This is a foreshadowing of Christians eating the flesh of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Prefiguring Christ, the Lamb of God:
The year-old male lamb without blemish to be sacrificed has obvious typological significance: It prefigures the Christ as the unblemished Lamb of God sacrificed for our redemption, and the lamb eaten at the Passover meal anticipates our eating the flesh of Christ in the Eucharist.  Jesus celebrates and transforms the Passover ritual at the Last Supper, where the memorial meal becomes the new exodus from sin.  Just as the Passover had led to the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and from the bondage of Pharaoh, so too would Christ’s sacrifice free us from the bondage of the world and the devil’s slavery to sin.  The blood of the lamb was put on the doorpost as protection against the destroyer and death. So too, it is Jesus’ blood that covers us and protects us from evil and death.  Just as they ate the lamb, so too, do we eat the flesh of Christ in the sacrament of Communion.  Through Christ’s sacrifice of the Cross and the Eucharist, we passover from death into life in the new exodus to the eternal promised land.  St. Paul uses this same paschal imagery too: “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor. 5:7)

Remembrance and Civilization Progress:
Yahweh tells them “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate..” (Ex. 12:14)  The idea of remembrance is a very important one in the Torah.  Thomas Cahill writes in his book The Gift of the Jewsthat the Jews were the first to break out of the cyclical worldview that dominated history, that is, nothing progresses scientifically, culturally, or morally.  The Jews were the first to break out of this cycle.  He writes, “The Jews were the first people to break out of this circle . . . It may be said with some justice that theirs is the only new idea that human beings had ever had.”

Feast of Unleavened Bread:
“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. . ” (Ex. 12:15)  The unleavened bread (“matzah”) is a reminder of their hurried departure from Egypt.  The bitter herbs are meant to remind them of the bitter bondage of slavery they endured, and from which, Yahweh freed them.  Leaven is also symbolic of sins and evil influences that Israel must now remove from themselves.  This is why Jesus warns the Jews with the same paschal imagery, “Beware of the leavenof the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Lk. 12:1)  Leavening is a process of fermentation of dough, which chemically breaks down and degrades the substance.  It is a form of decay and decomposition.  Symbolically, it represents sin and death.  The number seven echoes the seven days of creation, as the Israelites pass over in the exodus into a new world.  Yahweh is deadly serious that the Jews must observe the seven days of unleavened bread or they “shall be cut off from Israel.” The Feast of Unleavened Bread was intertwined with the Passover meal, just as the sacrifice of Christ became one with the bread of the Eucharist.  The unleavened bread clearly denotes the Blessed Sacrament, which Christ transformed into His very own Body and Blood.

Death of the First-Borns:
“Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.” (Ex. 12:29)  “There was not a house without its dead.” (v.30) This could also serve as a means of despoiling the Egyptians (who adhered to the firstborn primogeniture laws) of their priestly class and proper sacrifices. At last, Pharaoh and the Egyptians have finally had enough.  Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron, and demands them “Leave my people at once, you and the Israelites with you!” (Ex. 12:31)  The Lord also made the Egyptians well disposed to give the Israelites “whatever they asked for.”  (v.36)

The Departure from Egypt:
The Israelites had been in Egypt for 430 years.  “Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children.” (Ex. 12:37)  This was a crowd of mixed ancestry, so not just Jewish Israelites. There may well have been up to 1-2 million+ men, women and children total departing from Egypt.  The dough they brought out of Egypt was not leavened, so “they baked it into unleavened loaves.” (Ex. 12:39)

The Passover Regulations:
The Lord then lays down His regulations for partaking in it.  “No foreigner may partake of it.” “No transient alien or hired servant may partake of it.” Anyone who wishes to join in the observance of it “must first be circumcised, and then they may join in its observance just like the natives.” (Ex. 12:48)  This is no ordinary meal.  This is a covenantal ritual.  Only those circumcised into the covenantal relationship with Yahweh may partake of it and eat of the flesh of the lamb.  This is the same in our Catholic Church.  You must be baptized and initiated into the Catholic faith in order to partake of the Mass and holy Eucharist.  You must be brought into the sacramental Catholic fold in order to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lamb of God.  It is not surprising then that Yahweh instructs them “you may not take any of its flesh outside the house.” (Ex. 12:46)  So too, we are not to offer the Eucharist outside the house of God or the Catholic community of believers.

Not Break Any Bones:
Next, Yahweh tells them, “You shall not break any of its bones.” (v.47) This, of course, is directly applicable to Christ on the Cross showing Him to be a prophetic type of paschal lamb.  St. John tells us: “but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.. . http://archmdmag.com/free-historical-costume-patterns/  For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” (Jn.19:36)  Contrary to typical Roman crucifixion practices of breaking the bones of the condemned (in order that they may die more quickly), the Roman soldiers do not break Jesus’ bones.

Paschal Lambs “Crucified”:
Later, sacrificial Paschal lambs were in a manner of speaking “crucified.” According to the Mishnah, at the time of the Temple, after killing the lamb, the Jews would pierce it with “thin smooth staves” of wood through the shoulders in order to hand and skin it.  In addition, a second skewer of wood was thrust “from its mouth to it buttocks.”  The two beams of wood then would form a cross shape, upon which the lamb was hung.  A second century Christian, St. Justin Martyr, describes the same thing.  He wrote: “For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of a cross.  For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 40)  One can imagine the crucifixion of thousands of lambs across Jerusalem each year at the time of the Passover feast; thus, preparing the Jewish mind to accept the reality of the crucified Christ as the ultimate and final sacrifice.

Consecration of the Firstborns:
The Lord then instructs Moses to consecrate to Him “every first-born” of “both man and beast, for it belongs to me.” (Ex. 13:1)  This means to set apart for the service of divine worship.  The eldest sons and animals of Israel belong to Yahweh because He spared them in the tenth plague of His passing over Egypt.  The firstborn sons likely would be brought into sacred and priestly ministry, while the firstborn animals are kept for religious sacrifice.  Note: Later, in Num. 3:12 and 8:14-18, the Levites are chosen as substitutes for every firstborn son consecrated to God. The change occurs after the golden calf rebellion at Mt. Sinai.  The tribe of Levi ordained itself “for the service of the Lord” after the apostasy and idolatry of worshipping the golden calf.  Firstborn sons, thereafter, have to be redeemed or brought back into the liturgical ministry at the price of five shekels. (Num. 18:15-16)

Phylacteries:
The Lord tells Moses: “It shall be a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead.” (Ex. 13:9)  This is what inspired the Jewish practice of wearing the small leather boxes containing Scripture verses, phylacteries or tefillin, to their left arm and forehead during prayer.  This is also described in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  This was probably meant figuratively, although later generations took it literally as well.  The phylactery contains the Shema prayer (Deut. 6:4): “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”  The prayer, quoted by Jesus (Mk. 12:30), continues: “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  “Jesus later criticized the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees, who “do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.” (Mt. 23:5)

The Mark of the Beast:
It is interesting to note that in this monotheistic declaration in worship of Yahweh bound to their foreheads and hand, is later mocked and mimicked by the Antichrist with the mark of the beast.  The Book of Revelation reveals that anyone who “worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand . .” (Rev. 14:9)  The Holy Spirit seals us on our heads, and Satan, in his demonic counterfeit seals, and condemns, his followers with a mark on either their forehead or right hand.

Diversion into the Wilderness of the Sinai:
God could have led the Israelites directly into Canaan and the land where the Philistines dwelt.  However, “God did not lead them by way of the Philistines’ land, though this was the nearest; for He thought, should the people see that they would have to fight, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” (Ex. 13:17)  The Egyptians patrolled this area in north Sinai with a series of military forts.  So instead, God led them south from Ramses and Pithom to Succoth towards the desert along the way of the Red Sea.  Again, the Israelites are leaving not as slaves but as a conquering army. “In battle array the Israelites marched out of Egypt.” (v.18) They also brought Joseph’s bones along with them to bring back to Israel.

A Column of Cloud by Day and a Pillar of Fire by Night: 
“The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” (Ex. 13:21)  The column of cloud and the pillar of fire never left its place in front of the people. Yahweh marches at the head of the Israelites.  It is God’s preternatural power and manifestation of His holy presence.  Isaiah wrote of it as  “He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them.” (Is. 63:11) St. Ambrose wrote the fire designated Jesus Christ and the cloud the Holy Spirit.  The cloud foreshadows Baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who cools our passions.  St. Paul in writing to the Corinthians said, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;” (1 Cor. 10:1-2)

Yahweh the Warrior:
Pharaoh remained obstinate and changed his mind exclaiming, “What have we done!”  With that, “Pharaoh’s whole army, his horses, chariots and charioteers, caught up with them as they lay encamped by the sea, at Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.” (Ex. 14:9)  Pharaoh came back for revenge and vengeance upon Moses and Israel.  Just then the Israelites look up and see the Egyptians, and become terrified.  They complain bitterly to Moses, “Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” (Ex. 14:12)  Moses answered them: “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” (v.13-14)  Yahweh is the divine warrior ready to fight for Israel.  Then, Yahweh does some defensive battle maneuvers to guard the rear. The angel of God, who had been leading the Israelites, now moved behind them.  This angel is the one who mediates and manifests God’s presence to the world. The column of cloud also left the front and went behind them.  Thus, they stood in between the Egyptian camp and the Israelites; blocking the Egyptians and protecting the Israelites.

The Miraculous Crossing of the Red Sea:
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided.The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Ex. 14:21-22)  This is undoubtedly a miraculous event, and not simply a freak natural phenomenon.  It is perhaps the greatest miraculous event recorded in the Exodus and the Old Testament.  Yahweh is manifesting His divine power and delivering His people Israel with powerful miracles and wondrous signs.  The Israelites march through as with a “wall of water” to the left and to the right.  The Israelites passed through the water as on dry land.  Soon, the Pharaoh and the Egyptian army were in hot pursuit through the midst of the water.  The Lord cast “a glance” through the fiery cloud that threw the Egyptians into a “panic” and they “sounded the retreat.” (v.24)  “For the Lord was fighting for them against the Egyptians.”  Yahweh then tells Moses to stretch out his hand again over the sea, and “at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth.” (v.27) Pharaoh and the charioteers were caught in it and drowned.  “Not a single one of them escaped.” (v.28)  “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.” (Ex. 14:30-31) This is Yahweh’s mightiest act of deliverance for Israel and is frequently called as such in the Old Testament (Ps. 66:6; 106:9; Is. 51:10; 63:11-13)

Allegorical Baptism of the Red Sea:
The crossing of the waters of the Red Sea is a type of Baptism.  The people of God are brought out of bondage and slavery by being baptized in the waters of the Red Sea to free them from the oppressive Egyptians.  Similarly, Christians are Baptized in the sacramental water and made free of the stains of original sin.  We cross over into a new life in Christ.  St. Paul made the same allusions too: “and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Cor. 10:2)  The Egyptians were the stain of sin that the waters removed from the chosen people, Israel.  The waters of Baptism end the control of the devil in our lives and put to death our enmity with God.  We reemerge on the other side with a new faith and a new life.

Moses’ Hymn to the Lord as a Warrior:
Moses sings a song to Yahweh, a victory hymn honoring the Mighty Lord.  In verse 2, he says the Lord is my “savior;” in verse 3, “The Lord is a warrior.”  (Ex. 15:3)  In verse 13, “redeemer.”  Moses mocks the gods of Egypt again saying “Who is like to you among the gods, O Lord?” (v.11) Pharaoh and his charioteers “sank into the depths like a stone.” (v. 5) There are similar visions of the wicked sinking like stones in the sea (Jer. 51:63-64; Lk. 17:2).  This also is a foreshadowing of the future destruction of the antichrist’s kingdom of “Babylon.”  “A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone and threw it into the sea.” (Rev. 18:21)  The second half of the hymn is directed at future conquests over Canaan, the Philistines, Edom, and Moab.  Nations will tremble before the warpath of Yahweh.  The prophetess Miriam, Aaron’s sister, takes a tambourine and leads the women in dancing and praising God.  She represents a type of the Church, leading the faithful in songs of divine praise.

Bitter Water at Marah:
Moses then leads them from the Red Sea for three days through the desert without finding any water.  They arrive at Marah, where the people grumbled again (already) that the water was “bitter.” (Ex. 15:23)  The Exodus generation is infamous for their “murmuring” and “grumbling” against God and Moses.  Years later, Moses will look back at them as “a perverse and crooked generation.” (Deut. 32:5)  This, however, is the first of their crises, a lack of drinking water.  Each crisis highlights their precarious situation in the desert and their reliance on Yahweh’s providential care.  The Lord then pointed out to Moses a “certain piece of wood. When he threw this into the water, the water became fresh.” (Ex. 15:25)  The waters of Marah are made fresh by the wood.  Tertullian pointed out that this is a prefigurement of the wood of the Cross of Christ making holy and life-giving the waters of Baptism. (Tertullian, On Baptism, 9)

Oasis at Elim:
At long last, the Israelites come to Elim, “where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.” (Ex. 15:27)  This oasis had plenty of shade and water for the weary Israelites.  This location is still a dramatic oasis in the desert today with water and palm trees.

Exodus 1-6:

Exodus Overview:
The book of Exodus is broken up into two halves: the first – the liberation of the Hebrews from Egypt; and the second – the establishment of the Covenant at Mount Sinai. The Israelites leave Egypt not as slaves or refugees but as a plundering army with gold and silver, dramatically attesting to the power of God’s deed. From there, they cross the Red Sea and enter into the slower drama of the wilderness experience in the Sinai Desert. There are four main themes associated with the book of Exodus: (1) Revelation (God reveals to Moses and Israel His name, YHWH); (2) Salvation (from Egypt and through the Sea and in the desert); (3) Covenant (the 10 Commandments at Mt. Sinai); and (4) Glory (YHWH comes to dwell with the Israelites in the Meeting Tent, Tabernacle and Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant.)

The Sons of Israel in Egypt:
Joseph and all his brothers eventually died, and “a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt.” The Israelites were “fruitful and increased,” and “became so numerous and strong that the land was filled with them.” Jewish scholars have pointed out that “fruitful and increased” echoes the story of Creation when God told Adam and Eve to be “fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). This implies a type of “Second Creation” with the forming of the Jewish nation. God charged this specific group of people, the Israelites, with spreading monotheism to the whole world and a universal ethical and moral code. In short, they would make the one true God known to the world. The Jews would become God’s people who would prepare the way, and eventually, give birth to the Messiah.

The Midwives and the Hebrew Boys:
The Pharaoh and the Egyptians, however, grew fearful of them as a foreign people and a foreign bloodline in their country. So, set taskmasters over them, and “reduced them to cruel slavery.” “Thus they had to build for Pharaoh the supply cities of Pithom and Raamses.” The King of Egypt then orders the midwives working for the Hebrews “if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she may live.” (Ex. 1:16) “The midwives, however, feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live.” (Ex. 1:17) After the king confronted the midwives, the Pharaoh then orders all his subjects to: “Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews, but you may let all the girls life.” (Ex. 1:22)

The Slaughter of the Innocence:
This, of course, is a foreshadowing centuries later of King Herod’s decree to slaughter all the first-born males in Bethlehem, the slaughter of the innocence. Evil feeds off the blood of the most innocent, like the practice of infant sacrifice to Molech. King Herod was troubled by the Magi’s prediction of a male Savior born at the time, so in a jealous rage he tried to kill him, by killing all the young male babies. “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under..” (Mt. 2:16) Here too the Egyptians seek to snuff out the life of the Israelites by slaughtering all the newborn males. One source from the Midrash actually relates that Pharaoh was warned by his sorcerers and astrologers that a male savior of the Israelites was about to be born. This would explain why he sought to kill all the young male infants. This would be repeated again in the time of Jesus’ birth. Pharaoh was a type and forerunner to Herod, just as Moses was a type and forerunner to Jesus. Jesus is, in fact, the “new Moses.”

Water and the Birth of Moses:
Moses was born to ordinary Levi parents. However, “When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket, daubed it with bitumen and pitch, and putting the child in it, placed it among the reeds on the river bank.” (Ex. 2:3) Pharaoh’s daughter came down the Nile River bank and saw the basket among the reeds had her handmaid fetch it. She was “moved with pity” upon seeing the baby Hebrew boy, and decided to have one of the Hebrew women (his own mother) nurse him. Later, after “the child grew” Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him as her son, and called him Moses because “I drew him out of the water.” This is meant as a direct allusion to Noah’s Ark. The Hebrew word tevah is used for both Noah’s Ark and Moses’ wicker basket. Just as God had established a new world with the Flood and saving Noah from the waters in the Ark, YHWH would now establish another creation of the Jewish nation by pulling Moses from the waters. These are, of course, forerunners and a typology for Jesus, who makes us new creations through the waters of Baptism. The precursor creations of Noah and Moses give way to the truly new creation brought about by Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Moses Flight from Egypt:
After Moses had grown up, he witnessed an Egyptian striking a fellow Hebrew, and so, Moses slew him. Soon, the affair was known and Moses became afraid that Pharaoh would try to kill him. Moses fled to the land of Midian in the Arabian Peninsula. There, Moses is invited into the House of Jethro who has seven daughters. He marries his daughter Zipporah and have a son, Gershom.

The Burning Bush:
While tending his flock near the mountain of God, Mount Horeb, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush.” (Ex. 3:2) “As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, ‘I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.'” (Ex. 3:3) God called out to him from the bush “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” God tells Moses He is the God of his father, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He has heard the cry of his people in affliction in Egypt. “Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey..”(Ex. 3:8) God then tells Moses that He is sending him to Pharaoh and to lead His people the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses responds, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?” God answers him, “I will be with you.”

I AM:
Then, Moses asks God if the Israelites ask him what is the name of God that sent him. “God replied, ‘I Am Who Am.’ Then He added: ‘This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.'” (Ex. 3:14) God tells Moses that His name is the verb “to be.” God is existence itself. God essence is being itself. “I Am Who Am” forms the letters YHWH, or with the Hebrew vowels, Yahweh. Yahweh is “Being,” “I Am,” or simply “Is.” The Hebrews considered the name of God too holy so subsequently through the Torah God is referred to simply as “Adonai” or “Lord.”

Jesus and I AM:
This is why Jesus’ proclamation centuries later that He is I AM is so shocking and the Jews were so scandalized. John chapter 8 has an incredible dialogue between Jesus and some of the Jewish hierarchy. They claim that Abraham is their ancestor and father. But, Jesus tells them: “‘Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ So the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him.” (John 8: 56-59) Jesus claims the name of God, and so, claims equality with God. Jesus and I AM are one.

Moses’ Mission:
Yahweh gives Moses his mission. “I am concerned about you and about the way you are being treated in Egypt; so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Ex. 3:17) Yahweh then tells Moses to assemble the elders of Israel and go to the Pharaoh to “permit us” to go three days journey into the desert to offer sacrifice to the Lord. God tells Moses beforehand that Pharaoh will not permit it but will force God to work “wondrous deeds.”

Moses’ Objections:
Moses objects to God, “suppose they will not believe me, nor listen to my plea?” God then changes Moses staff into a serpent. Then, He commanded Moses to take hold of the serpent, and when he did, it became his staff again. God then tests Moses again by turning his hand leprous, and back to normal again. Moses complains to the Lord again, “If you please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor recently, nor now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Ex. 4:10) The Lord losing patience with Moses commands him: “Go, then!” Yet, Moses persisted “If you please, Lord, send someone else!” Then the Lord became angry with Moses and said, ‘Have you not your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know that he is an eloquent speaker. . . He shall speak to the people for you.”

Moses’ Staff of God:
God commands him to take his shepherding staff with him by which Yahweh will work miracles. Moses remains a shepherd, but now he is the shepherd of the Israelites. This is also reminiscent of the humble David and his sling defeating the giant Goliath. Moses and his shepherd’s staff defeats the military might of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army.

God’s First-Born Son:
The Lord instructed Moses, “‘So you shall say to Pharaoh: ‘Thus says the Lord: Israel is my son, my first-born.'” Israel is God’s firstborn who He called out of Egypt. Israel is a foreshadowing again of Jesus, who is God’s firstborn and only Son. He too is also called out of Egypt.

Pharaoh’s Obduracy:
After Moses and Aaron make the request of Pharaoh to let the Israelites go for three days, even using the word “please” (“nah” in Hebrew) he refuses. Moses was essentially asking Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to offer animal sacrifices to Yahweh, but the Egyptians worshiped animals. The Israelites would in essence be sacrificing the gods of Egypt. Instead, Pharaoh tells the Hebrews, and their taskmasters and foreman, that they shall now have to gather their own straw and make the same amount of bricks for “They are lazy.” “Off to work, then!” Moses then bitterly complained to the Lord, “you have done nothing to rescue them.” (Ex. 5:23)

God’s Response:
Yahweh answers Moses, “I am the Lord. I will free you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and will deliver you from their slavery. I will rescue you by my outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as My own people, and you shall have Me as your God. You will know that I, the Lord, am your God when I free you from the labor of the Egyptians and bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your own possession – I, the Lord!” (Ex. 6:7-8)

The Four Promises and Four Cups:
These are the traditional verses why Jews drink four cups of wine at the Passover Seder. Each cup represents a divine promise: (1) “I will free you.. ” (2) “I will deliver you.. ” (3) “I will rescue/redeem you.. ” (4) “I will take you to be My people.. ” These are the same four cups of wine that Jesus and the Apostles celebrated at the Last Supper – the first Mass and Eucharist – and the next day at the crucifixion. Jesus frees us, delivers us, redeems us, and makes us His people. “And I will take you to be My people” is reminiscent of the ancient Jewish marriage contract (ketubah) in which a woman accepts a marriage proposal from a man and the man takes a wife. Israel and God are often shown metaphorically to be in a marriage relationship and covenant. This foreshadows the true Bridegroom and Bride, Jesus Christ and His Church. With Jesus’ Holy Communion and Crucifixion, He seals the marriage of Himself with His Church. Jesus and His followers are one, just as husband and wife become “one flesh.” The faithful of the Church are the bride to the Messianic groom Christ. In Heaven to come, as depicted in Revelation, the Church is at the “wedding feast of the Lamb.” The Bridegroom and Bride are united forever in the marriage of God and man.

Holy Thursday and the New Commandment – April 13, 2017

Jesus’ actions on Holy Thursday were revolutionary and radical. They are meant to shock our consciences. Indeed, St. Peter was so shocked he exclaimed, “You shall never wash my feet.” (Jn. 13:8) His sensibilities were offended that the Messiah, the very Son of God, would perform the actions of a typical household slave of those days. Jesus turned the world upside down. True greatness would no longer be measured in money, power and social status, but in simple humble service to our fellow man, as Jesus taught them, “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Mt. 23:10)

It was in the Cenacle in Jerusalem that Thursday night that Jesus faced His imminent death. Just hours from His Passion and Crucifixion – this supreme moment in His life – all of His words and actions in the Upper Room carried special meaning and weight. Jesus waited until this moment at the Last Supper to institute the Eucharist and Holy Orders. In this intimate setting with His closest friends and Apostles, Jesus washes their feet, and gives us the Mandatum, or the mandate, the new commandment. As John tells us:

Jesus “rose from supper, laid aside His garments, and girded Himself with a towel. Then He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” (Jn. 13:4-5)

Following the washing of the disciples’ feet, Jesus says, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. click here   For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (Jn. 13:14-15)

Here, with His final actions before Good Friday, Jesus shows the disciples that they are to humbly serve one another. He reinforces this with His final discourse, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jn. 13:34) On Holy Thursday, the beginning of the paschal Triduum, Jesus commissions all of His disciples, that is, all Christians, above all else, to love one another.

As with all things, Jesus’ words and example is the model for us to follow. Jesus Himself said He “came not to be served but to serve.” (Mt. 20:28) St. Paul too speaks of Jesus’ humility as He “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.” (Phil. 2:7) He spoke often about the need for humility and service, and the necessity to live one’s life with Christian charity. One of Jesus’ great teachings is the parable of the Good Samaritan. He uses the parable to demonstrate what our mercy should resemble, and that we should “Go and do likewise.” (Lk. 10:37) In another parable, the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus warns us about the implications of not living a life of mercy and charity. In the parable, the rich man, who did not show mercy or compassion towards the poor man Lazarus, ends up in torment in Hades. Abraham reminds him that he had his opportunity to demonstrate mercy during his lifetime, but chose not to. These are sobering words from Jesus.

Perhaps the most jarring words on this is Jesus’ depiction of the Final Judgment. The Righteous inherit the kingdom and eternal life, with Jesus telling them: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, http://viewtific.com/wp-includes/certificates/pharmacie/taro-carbamazepine.html  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Mt. 25: 35-36) The Righteous had lived Jesus’ Beatitudes, especially “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt. 5:7) But to those who fail to perform works of mercy and charity, Jesus sends them to eternal punishment. Ultimately, we are judged by whether we follow Christ’s new commandment or not. In serving the needy, we are, in reality, serving Christ, as He said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Mt. 25:40)

Jesus says the distinguishing characteristic of His disciples will be their “love for one another.” Tertullian remarked that the early Roman pagans would exclaim of Christians, “See how they love one another!” And what should this charity towards our neighbor look like? The Church teaches the corporal works of mercy, in which we minister to the bodily needs of the person, primarily as: “feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.” (CCC 2447) The Church similarly teaches that we should practice spiritual works of mercy as well, primarily by: instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently, and praying for the living and the dead. These bring to mind Jesus’ words to St. Faustina on the absolute necessity for us to demonstrate mercy towards our neighbor through deed, word, or prayer. (Diary, 742)

Jesus’ new commandment is clear; we are to love one another. How then do we do this on a practical level? The varied number of ways we can fulfill this are as long as they are deep. We can do it in our everyday life and work. We can donate our time and money, or goods and services. We can volunteer at a soup kitchen, or be involved in a parish social ministry. One of the areas I find rewarding is working with the homeless population. Regardless of what the social and economic causes may be for homelessness, and whether our actions may be enabling them to some extent, Jesus did command us “Give to every one who begs from you.” (Lk. 6:30) To enter into the world of the homeless is to be barraged by sights, sounds, smells and struggles. It is to witness firsthand the brokenness in humanity in drug addiction and mental health sickness, and at times, crime. On the other hand, they are people just like you and me. Each homeless man or woman is a person, with an inherent dignity, made in the image of God. In their faces and bodies is Jesus. Although sometimes it is a difficult experience, I almost always feel enriched and spiritually renewed in serving them.

And so, it is up to us to live out Christ’s commission of mercy and charity towards our neighbor: to love one another in humble service as He has loved us. This is Christ’s radical idea that upended the trajectory of the ancient world. The God-man took the form of a servant and washed the feet of His disciples. This is Jesus’ radical example for us. It was in this Passover setting that the sacrificial lamb gave way to the sacrifice of Christ: the prefigurement gave way to the reality. Christ gave us this sublime example and new commandment at the Last Supper, as He offered the sacrament of His love in the Eucharist. We too can offer ourselves, as a living sacrifice, in our mercy and charity towards others, in union with the sacrifice of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The 3:00 Hour, The Hour of Divine Mercy – January 27, 2016

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:45-46)

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.” (Acts, 3:1)

“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You.” (Diary of St.Faustina, 187)

Jesus died at the three o’clock hour. This is known in the bible as “the ninth hour.” It was for this hour that Jesus had come into the world. In the beginning of His Passion, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to the Father, in agony and sweating blood, with foreknowledge of His coming torture and death, saying “Now My soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.” (Jn. 12:27) As the Catechism states “..for His redemptive passion was the very reason for His Incarnation.” (CCC 607) The Word of God became flesh and suffered and died as an expiation for our sins, in order to reconcile humanity with God. (CCC 457) St.John reinforces this point by declaring that the Father “sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 Jn.4:10) This atoning sacrifice, the Passion and death of the Son of God, was accomplished at the ninth hour, or at three o’clock, on a Friday afternoon. As the Scripture tells us, “And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit.” (Mt. 27:50) Jesus’ willing sacrificial death freed us from our sins and gave the possibility of conquering death and resurrecting us to eternal life.

The three o’clock hour inaugurates the new covenant, the New Testament between God and man, through the person of Jesus Christ. As the next line indicates, “And behold, the curtain of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom;” (Mt. 27:51) The curtain, or the veil, was the massive cloth that hung between the two holiest chambers in the Temple, hiding the inner most holiest of holies, or the presence of God. No man was allowed to approach the holy presence of God there, except only the High Priest himself, on one day of the year, the Day of Atonement. The fact that God rent the veil in half, down the middle, thus exposing the inner holy of holies, or God Himself, shows that the sacrificial death of Jesus now allows man again to approach God directly. God is no longer partitioned, or hidden from humanity, but rather, He is available now for all, intimately for each of us. As the letter to the Hebrews describes this radical change in the God-to-man dynamic, saying “..since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh..” (Heb. 9:19-20)

At the three o’clock hour, Creation itself is in distress over the dying and death of its Creator. From noon until three o’clock, as Jesus hung on the Cross, the sun withheld its light and darkness came over the land. We do not know exactly whether this was an eclipse or something supernatural. This hearkens back to the prophet Amos, who prophesied, “On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight.” (Amos, 8:9) With the earth too, at the three o’clock hour, when Jesus expires, there is a great earthquake. St.Matthew describes the scene saying, “and the earth shook, and the rocks were split” (Mt. 27:51), again echoing the prophet Amos, “Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it…. I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.” (Amos, 8:8,10)  

At the three o’clock hour, in the midst of His Passion, Jesus, the only Son of the Father, took on the sins of the whole world, in order to free us from our sins. As St.Paul tells the Corinthians, “For our sake He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21) During the original Passover of the Israelites in Egypt, they offered the sacrifice of a one year old lamb “without blemish” (Ex.12:5), putting its blood on their house doorpost, so that the angel of death would “pass over” them, and keep them from dying. Later, in the Temple period, under the Mosaic law, the Temple priests sacrificed two lambs a day in expiation for the sins of the people. (Ex.29:38-39) So, now too, Jesus, as He went into His Passion and Crucifixion, was “like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, He was silent and opened not His mouth.” (Is. 53:7) The Old Mosaic lamb sacrifices were merely symbolic representations, typologies, to prepare the Jews for the one true sacrifice of the Son of God. Jesus is the true lamb of God. This is why, upon first seeing Jesus, John the Baptist declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29) Jesus took on our sins and became sin on the Cross, for the sake of our eternal well-being.

This is why at the three o’clock hour He cries out just before His death, quoting the Psalmist, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps.22:1) Jesus quotes Psalm 22, which prophesied His suffering and death. All the Jews who were present would have known exactly what He was referencing. Psalm 22 speaks of an ignominious death of a righteous man, but who does not lose faith, and is ultimately justified before God. The parallels are amazing, and not because they are amazing coincidences, but because they fulfill the word of God exactly. The Psalmist prophesies, “All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads; commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver; let him rescue the one in whom he delights!” (Ps. 22:7-8) As St.Matthew describes this fulfillment:

“And those who passed by derided Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Him, saying, “He saved others; He cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God deliver Him now, if He desires Him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Mt.27:39-43)

Psalm 22 continues foretelling the events that would unfold: “Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet; I can count all my bones; they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots.” (Ps.22:16-18) This parallels the account in the Gospels, “And when they had crucified Him, they divided His garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over Him there.” (Mt.27:35-36) Ultimately, the righteous man of Psalm 22 does not lose hope, but is justified. The Psalmist says, “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live for ever!” (Ps. 22:36) This is similar to the end of the Crucifixion account, which ends with the righteous praising God and saints rising from the dead. As St.Matthew described it:

“..the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Mt. 27:52-54)

The three o’clock hour is hour of great mercy for the whole world. It is the hour of divine mercy, when humanity was restored to fullness in its relation to God through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Beginning in the 1930’s, Sister Faustina Kowalska of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow, Poland began to have divine revelations from our Lord Jesus Christ. Sister Faustina, now Saint Faustina, recorded all of these revelations in her private diary, “Divine Mercy In My Soul.” Among the many revelations imparted by Jesus to St.Faustina in her diary is the great importance of the moment of the three o’clock hour. The moment of three o’clock, the moment of Jesus’ agony and death, is the great moment of God’s divine mercy for the whole world. Jesus told St.Faustina of the tremendous importance we should attach to this moment each day. As per Jesus’ words from her revelation:  

“At three o’clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to enter into My mortal sorrow. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion.” (Diary, 1320)

And again, Jesus reminded St.Faustina:

“As often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul.  In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world — mercy triumphed over justice.” (Diary, 1572)

“My daughter, try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it; and if you are not able to make the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy; and should you be unable to step into the chapel, immerse yourself in prayer there where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant.” (Diary, 1572)

The three o’clock hour is a privileged moment in the day for us, to claim mercy for the salvation of sinners, and the whole world, by virtue of Jesus’ passion, suffering and death. We can be there with Mary and St.John at the foot of the Cross. As Jesus implores us, we can, even “for a very brief instant,” at the three o’clock hour, immerse ourselves in prayer to Jesus, calling upon His divine mercy, in intercession for others. We can make a short prayer each and every day at 3:00, despite our busy days and schedules, whether at work, or at home, or in the car, or whatever we might happen to be doing at that moment. It is very easy to make this a part of our daily schedule. After a while, it will become second nature to us, pausing for a moment in our daily routines, to worship the divine mercy of Jesus and ask for intercession of behalf of the salvation of sinners. A brief prayer at the three o’clock hour should be a part of our prayer life, each and every day. In this way, we can trust in Jesus’ divine mercy for the salvation of our souls.

 

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