These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the children of Israel to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the children of Israel may pass through it on dry land.
But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.
Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers.” (Exodus 14:5-18)
The chase is on. And though it might not have occurred exactly as Cecil B. DeMille envisioned it, It can only end with glory for the Lord.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things. (Mk 6:30-34)
Again the image of the heart of Christ, the Good Shepherd, moved with compassion for us, who teaches us the mysteries of the Kingdom.
They had rushed out of Egypt and had no opportunity even to prepare food for the journey. This was a night of vigil for the LORD, as he led them out of the land of Egypt; so on this same night all the children of Israel must keep a vigil for the LORD throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:37-42)
The Great Easter Vigil invites us all to keep a vigil for the Lord who leads us out of the darkness of death into God’s marvelous light in the Resurrection of Christ, our God who give us bread for the journey.
It is the Passover of the LORD. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD! But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you. “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.” (Exodus 11:10-12:14)
The story of the Passover is the story of liberation of the people of Israel. Saint Paul ties the image of the Passover Lamb to the Eucharist in order to say, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed, let us celebrate the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor 5:7-8).
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt 11:28-30)
One of the most beautiful passages in the gospel—with the image of the heart of Christ.
Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.
I am the God of your father,” he continued,
“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.
Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people,
the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:1-6,9-12)
From tending the flock to shepherding the children of Israel, that’s the story of Moses, and what a story! Our God who hears the cry of the poor and rescues them.
Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to bathe,
while her maids walked along the river bank.
Noticing the basket among the reeds, she sent her handmaid to fetch it.
On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying!
She was moved with pity for him and said,
“It is one of the Hebrews’ children.”
When the child grew, (the mother) brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter,
who adopted him as her son and called him Moses;
for she said, “I drew him out of the water.” (Exodus 2:1-15)
The story of Moses in the Bullrushes is the beginning of the great story of salvation and deliverance. And like all such stories, the beginning can be very simple yet universal, a mother trying to protect her child, trying to give her child a better tomorrow.