Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ex 20, 8-11 Remember to keep holy the sabbath day

(Ex 20, 8-11) Remember to keep holy the sabbath day

[8] "Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. [9] Six days you may labor and do all your work, [10] but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. [11] In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

(CCC 2168) The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the sabbath: "The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD" (Ex 31:15). (CCC 2169) In speaking of the sabbath Scripture recalls creation: "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it" (Ex 20:11). (CCC 2171) God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant (Cf. Ex 31:16). The sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel. (CCC 2175) Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ (Cf. 1 Cor 10:11): Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Magn. 9, 1: SCh 10, 88).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ex 20, 5-7 Love me and keep my commandments

(Ex 20, 5-7) Love me and keep my commandments

[5] you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; [6] but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments. [7] "You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain.

(CCC 2083) Jesus summed up man's duties toward God in this saying: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Mt 22:37; cf. Lk 10:27:"… And with all your strength"). This immediately echoes the solemn call: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD" (Deut 6:4). God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the "ten words." the commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God. (CCC 2141) The veneration of sacred images is based on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. It is not contrary to the first commandment. (CCC 2056) The word "Decalogue" means literally "ten words" (Rom Ex 34:28; Deut 4:13; 10:4). God revealed these "ten words" to his people on the holy mountain. They were written "with the finger of God" (Ex 31:18; Deut 5:22), unlike the other commandments written by Moses (Cf. Deut 31:9-24). They are pre-eminently the words of God. They are handed on to us in the books of Exodus (Cf. Ex 20:1-17) and Deuteronomy (Cf. Deut 5:6-22). Beginning with the Old Testament, the sacred books refer to the "ten words" (Cf. for example Hos 4:2; Jer 7:9; Ezek 18:5-9), but it is in the New Covenant in Jesus Christ that their full meaning will be revealed.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ex 20, 1-4 I, the LORD, am your God

Exodus 20 (chosen pages)

(Ex 20, 1-4) I, the LORD, am your God

[1] Then God delivered all these commandments: [2] "I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. [3] You shall not have other gods besides me. [4] You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;

(CCC 2061) The Commandments take on their full meaning within the covenant. According to Scripture, man's moral life has all its meaning in and through the covenant. The first of the "ten words" recalls that God loved his people first: Since there was a passing from the paradise of freedom to the slavery of this world, in punishment for sin, the first phrase of the Decalogue, the first word of God's commandments, bears on freedom "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" (Origen, Hom. in Ex. 8,1: PG 12, 350; cf. Ex 20:2; Deut 5:6).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ex 19, 21-25 Who approach the LORD must sanctify

(Ex 19, 21-25) Who approach the LORD must sanctify

[21] Then the LORD told Moses, "Go down and warn the people not to break through toward the LORD in order to see him; otherwise many of them will be struck down. [22] The priests, too, who approach the LORD must sanctify themselves; else he will vent his anger upon them." [23] Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot go up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us to set limits around the mountain to make it sacred." [24] The LORD repeated, "Go down now! Then come up again along with Aaron. But the priests and the people must not break through to come up to the LORD; else he will vent his anger upon them." [25] So Moses went down to the people and told them this.

(CCC 708) This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law (Cf. Ex 19- 20; Deut 1-11; 29-30). God gave the Law as a "pedagogue" to lead his people towards Christ (Gal 3:24). But the Law's powerlessness to save man deprived of the divine "likeness," along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts (Cf. Rom 3:20), enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ex 19, 16-20 The LORD summoned Moses

(Ex 19, 16-20) The LORD summoned Moses

[16] On the morning of the third day there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. [17] But Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stationed themselves at the foot of the mountain. [18] Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the LORD came down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. [19] The trumpet blast grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking and God answering him with thunder. [20] When the LORD came down to the top of Mount Sinai, he summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up to him.

(CCC 2085) The one and true God first reveals his glory to Israel (Cf. Ex 19:16-25; 24:15-18). The revelation of the vocation and truth of man is linked to the revelation of God. Man's vocation is to make God manifest by acting in conformity with his creation "in the image and likeness of God": There will never be another God, Trypho, and there has been no other since the world began… than he who made and ordered the universe. We do not think that our God is different from yours. He is the same who brought your fathers out of Egypt "by his powerful hand and his outstretched arm." We do not place our hope in some other god, for there is none, but in the same God as you do: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (St. Justin, Dial. cum Tryphone Judaeo 11, 1: PG 6, 497).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ex 19, 6 You shall be to me a holy nation

(Ex 19, 6) You shall be to me a holy nation

[6] You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites."

(CCC 752) In Christian usage, the word "church" designates the liturgical assembly (Cf. 1 Cor 11:18; 14:19, 28, 34, 35), but also the local community (Cf. 1 Cor 1:2; 16:1) or the whole universal community of believers (Cf. 1 Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13; Phil 3:6). These three meanings are inseparable. "The Church" is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body. (CCC 2060) The gift of the commandments and of the Law is part of the covenant God sealed with his own. In Exodus, the revelation of the "ten words" is granted between the proposal of the covenant (Cf. Ex 19) and its conclusion - after the people had committed themselves to "do" all that the Lord had said, and to "obey" it (Cf. Ex 24:7). The Decalogue is never handed on without first recalling the covenant (“The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb." Deut 5:2). (CCC 709) The Law, the sign of God's promise and covenant, ought to have governed the hearts and institutions of that people to whom Abraham's faith gave birth. "If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant,… you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:5-6; Cf. 1 Pet 2:9). But after David, Israel gave in to the temptation of becoming a kingdom like other nations. The Kingdom, however, the object of the promise made to David (Cf. 2 Sam 7; Ps 89; Lk 1:32-33), would be the work of the Holy Spirit; it would belong to the poor according to the Spirit.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ex 19, 5 You shall be my special possession

Exodus 19 (chosen pages)

(Ex 19, 5) You shall be my special possession

[5] Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people, though all the earth is mine.

(CCC 762) The remote preparation for this gathering together of the People of God begins when he calls Abraham and promises that he will become the father of a great people (Cf. Gen 12:2; 15:5-6). Its immediate preparation begins with Israel's election as the People of God. By this election, Israel is to be the sign of the future gathering of all nations (Cf. Ex 19:5-6; Deut 7:6; Isa 2:2-5; Mic 4:1-4). But the prophets accuse Israel of breaking the covenant and behaving like a prostitute. They announce a new and eternal covenant. "Christ instituted this New Covenant" (LG 9; cf. Hos 1; Isa 1:2-4; Jer 2; 31:31-34; Isa 55:3). (CCC 2810) In the promise to Abraham and the oath that accompanied it (Cf. Heb 6:13), God commits himself but without disclosing his name. He begins to reveal it to Moses and makes it known clearly before the eyes of the whole people when he saves them from the Egyptians: "he has triumphed gloriously" (Ex 15:1; cf. 3:14). From the covenant of Sinai onwards, this people is "his own" and it is to be a "holy (or "consecrated": the same word is used for both in Hebrew) nation" (Cf. Ex 19:5-6) because the name of God dwells in it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ex 17, 8-13 His hands remained steady till sunset

(Ex 17, 8-13) His hands remained steady till sunset

[8] At Rephidim, Amalek came and waged war against Israel. [9] Moses, therefore, said to Joshua, "Pick out certain men, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand." [10] So Joshua did as Moses told him: he engaged Amalek in battle after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur. [11] As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. [12] Moses' hands, however, grew tired; so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset. [13] And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

(CCC 2577) From this intimacy with the faithful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Cf. Ex 34:6), Moses drew strength and determination for his intercession. He does not pray for himself but for the people whom God made his own. Moses already intercedes for them during the battle with the Amalekites and prays to obtain healing for Miriam (Cf. Ex 17:8-12; Num 12:13-14). But it is chiefly after their apostasy that Moses "stands in the breach" before God in order to save the people (Ps 106:23; cf. Ex 32:1-34:9). The arguments of his prayer - for intercession is also a mysterious battle - will inspire the boldness of the great intercessors among the Jewish people and in the Church: God is love; he is therefore righteous and faithful; he cannot contradict himself; he must remember his marvellous deeds, since his glory is at stake, and he cannot forsake this people that bears his name.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ex 17, 1-7 Why do you put the LORD to a test?

Exodus 17 (chosen pages)

(Ex 17, 1-7) Why do you put the LORD to a test?

[1] From the desert of Sin the whole Israelite community journeyed by stages, as the LORD directed, and encamped at Rephidim. Here there was no water for the people to drink. [2] They quarreled, therefore, with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to a test?" [3] Here, then, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?" [4] So Moses cried out to the LORD, "What shall I do with this people? A little more and they will stone me!" [5] The LORD answered Moses, "Go over there in front of the people, along with some of the elders of Israel, holding in your hand, as you go, the staff with which you struck the river. [6] I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb. Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink." This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel. [7] The place was called Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled there and tested the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD in our midst or not?"

(CCC 694) Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As "by one Spirit we were all baptized," so we are also "made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor 12:13). Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified (Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:8) as its source and welling up in us to eternal life (Cf. Jn 4:10-14; 7:38; Ex 17:1-6; Isa 55:1; Zech 14:8; 1 Cor 10:4; Rev 21:6; 22:17). (CCC 2119) Tempting God consists in putting his goodness and almighty power to the test by word or deed. Thus Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act (Cf. Lk 4:9). Jesus opposed Satan with the word of God: "You shall not put the LORD your God to the test" (Deut 6:16). The challenge contained in such tempting of God wounds the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power (Cf. 1 Cor 10:9; Ex 17:2-7; Ps 95:9).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ex 16, 19-21 Morning after morning they gathered it

Exodus 16 (chosen pages)

(Ex 16, 19-21) Morning after morning they gathered it

[19] Moses also told them, "Let no one keep any of it over until tomorrow morning." [20] But they would not listen to him. When some kept a part of it over until the following morning, it became wormy and rotten. Therefore Moses was displeased with them. [21] Morning after morning they gathered it, till each had enough to eat; but when the sun grew hot, the manna melted away.

(CCC 2837) "Daily" (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of "this day" (Cf. Ex 16:19-21), to confirm us in trust "without reservation." Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence (Cf. 1 Tim 6:8). Taken literally (epi-ousios: "super-essential"), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the "medicine of immortality," without which we have no life within us (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20, 2 PG 5, 661; Jn 6:53-56). Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: "this day" is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day. The Eucharist is our daily bread. The power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive.... This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage (St. Augustine, Sermo 57, 7: PL 38, 389). The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven (St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 67 PL 52, 392; Cf. Jn 6:51).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ex 15, 26 I, the LORD, am your healer

(Ex 15, 26) I, the LORD, am your healer

[26] "If you really listen to the voice of the LORD, your God," he told them, "and do what is right in his eyes: if you heed his commandments and keep all his precepts, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases with which I afflicted the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer."

(CCC 1502) The man of the Old Testament lives his sickness in the presence of God. It is before God that he laments his illness, and it is of God, Master of life and death, that he implores healing (Cf. Pss 6:3; 38; Isa 38). Illness becomes a way to conversion; God's forgiveness initiates the healing (Cf. Pss 32:5; 38:5; 39:9, 12; 107:20; cf. Mk 2:5-12). It is the experience of Israel that illness is mysteriously linked to sin and evil, and that faithfulness to God according to his law restores life: "For I am the Lord, your healer" (Ex 15:26). The prophet intuits that suffering can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others (Cf. Isa 53:11). Finally Isaiah announces that God will usher in a time for Zion when he will pardon every offense and heal every illness (Cf. Isa 33:24).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ex 15, 1 I will sing to the LORD, for he is triumphant

Exodus 15 (chosen pages)

(Ex 15, 1) I will sing to the LORD, for he is triumphant

[1] Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

(CCC 2810) In the promise to Abraham and the oath that accompanied it (Cf. Heb 6:13), God commits himself but without disclosing his name. He begins to reveal it to Moses and makes it known clearly before the eyes of the whole people when he saves them from the Egyptians: "he has triumphed gloriously" (Ex 15:1; cf. 3:14). From the covenant of Sinai onwards, this people is "his own" and it is to be a "holy (or "consecrated": the same word is used for both in Hebrew) nation" (Cf. Ex 19:5-6) because the name of God dwells in it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ex 13, 21-22 A column of fire to give them light

(Ex 13, 21-22) A column of fire to give them light

[21] The LORD preceded them, in the daytime by means of a column of cloud to show them the way, and at night by means of a column of fire to give them light. Thus they could travel both day and night. [22] Neither the column of cloud by day nor the column of fire by night ever left its place in front of the people.

(CCC 697) Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory - with Moses on Mount Sinai (Cf. Ex 24:15-18), at the tent of meeting (Cf. Ex 33:9-10), and during the wandering in the desert (Cf. Ex 40:36-38; 1 Cor 10:1-2), and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple (Cf. 1 Kings 8:10-12). In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and "overshadows" her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus (Lk 1:35). On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the "cloud came and overshadowed" Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and "a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'" (Lk 9:34-35). Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming (Cf. Acts 1:9; cf. Lk 21:27).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ex 13, 11-14 You shall dedicate to the LORD every son

(Ex 13, 11-14) You shall dedicate to the LORD every son

[11] "When the LORD, your God, has brought you into the land of the Canaanites, which he swore to you and your fathers he would give you, [12] you shall dedicate to the LORD every son that opens the womb; and all the male firstlings of your animals shall belong to the LORD. [13] Every first-born of an ass you shall redeem with a sheep. If you do not redeem it, you shall break its neck. Every first-born son you must redeem. [14] If your son should ask you later on, 'What does this mean?' you shall tell him, 'With a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, that place of slavery.

(CCC 529) The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord (Cf. Lk 2:22-39; Ex 13:2, 12-13). With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Saviour - the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the "light to the nations" and the "glory of Israel", but also "a sign that is spoken against". The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had "prepared in the presence of all peoples". (CCC 614) This sacrifice of Christ is unique; it completes and surpasses all other sacrifices (Cf. Heb 10:10). First, it is a gift from God the Father himself, for the Father handed his Son over to sinners in order to reconcile us with himself. At the same time it is the offering of the Son of God made man, who in freedom and love offered his life to his Father through the Holy Spirit in reparation for our disobedience (Cf. Jn 10:17-18, 15:13; Heb 9:14; 1 Jn 4:10).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ex 13, 4-9 On this day you shall explain to your son

(Ex 13, 4-9) On this day you shall explain to your son

[4] This day of your departure is in the month of Abib. [5] Therefore, it is in this month that you must celebrate this rite, after the LORD, your God, has brought you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers he would give you, a land flowing with milk and honey. [6] For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and the seventh day shall also be a festival to the LORD. [7] Only unleavened bread may be eaten during the seven days; no leaven and nothing leavened may be found in all your territory. [8] On this day you shall explain to your son, 'This is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.' [9[ It shall be as a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead; thus the law of the LORD will ever be on your lips, because with a strong hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt.

(CCC 1094) It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built (Cf. DV 14-16; Lk 24:13-49), and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called "typological" because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the "figures" (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled (Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16). Thus the flood and Noah's ark prefigured salvation by Baptism (Cf. 1 Pet 3:21), as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, "the true bread from heaven" (Jn 6:32; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-6). (CCC 613) Christ's death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men, through "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (Jn 1:29; cf. 8:34-36; 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pt 1:19), and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the "blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:28; cf. Ex 24:8; Lev 16:15-16; 1 Cor 11:25).