Scripture: 1st Reading: Exodus11,10-12,14; Resp. Psalm: Ps116,12,13,15-18; Gosp. Accl.: Jn10,27; Gospel: Mt12,1-8
There is a great problem with pride. Pride makes man think too highly of himself and put others down. It makes man consider himself invincible, superhuman, untouchable. Pride is the root of foolishness. When one is proud, he listens to no counsel, believes that all wisdom begins and ends with him. Pride they say, goes before a fall.
Pride is what leads to hardness of heart. When man's heart is hardened, he takes no counsel, refuses alternative reasoning and becomes totally deaf to all ideas that are not his. When man gets to this state of foolish stupor, disaster and destruction lurks somewhere round the corner. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt was a character of this ilk.
God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh to let Israel go in peace. As expected of all rabidly proud mortals, Pharaoh who thought he was a god, refused to let Israel go. To bring him to his senses and make him see reason about the need to let Israel go out of Egypt, a place they had sojourned in for four hundred years, Moses and Aaron were commanded by Yahweh to perform many wonders and portents and great signs in the sight of Pharaoh. But he still refused. Rather than agree, he asked the magicians of Egypt to perform similar feats to demonstrate that there was nothing extraordinary in what Moses and Aaron did. The more he saw great signs, the more his heart hardened.
Yahweh, the mighty God then commanded Moses and Aaron to start preparing the Israelites for the mother of all signs: for the Israelites, a great wonder that would lead to liberation; for the Egyptians, a sign of defeat, great wailings and sadness. God told Moses and Aaron that that month shall be month of remembrance and thus the first month of the year for Israel in all generations.
Every house was commanded to prepare for the Passover. The detailed programme for the Passover was given by Yahweh Himself. Each family was to take a male unblemished lamb, from sheep or goats, keep it from that first day till the fourteenth day, then kill it on the fourteenth day, put the blood on the lintel and doorposts of their houses where they stayed, then eat the flesh roasted on fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The rest that they could not eat was to be thrown into the fire and burnt. Nothing was to remain until morning.
They were to eat their supper that night in haste because it was going to be the Lord's Passover, because Yahweh would pass through the land of Egypt that night and strike all the first born in Egypt, both of man and beast. Yahweh would execute judgment on all the gods in Egypt. The blood of the lamb would be the sign for the salvation of the Israelites that night.
Whenever the angel saw that sign, he would pass over the household and no plague would fall to destroy those within it. The day of Yahweh's salvation and liberation shall be observed by the house of Jacob as a Memorial Day and shall be kept as a feast to the Lord, throughout their generations as an ordinance for ever. Israel was to raise the cup of salvation in all their generation on this day in thanksgiving for the goodness and mercy of God. This became a law for Israel that must be kept.
The Sabbath, the day Yahweh rested after all His works, was given this salvific, liberation motif, especially after the exile. It was seen as a day to commemorate the great deeds of God not only in creating the world but also in liberating His people from slavery. Unfortunately, by the time of our Lord, the Sabbath had become oppressive, with many interpretations added to it that made it an unbearable burden.
This was why our Lord was against the abuse of the Sabbath by people of His generation. He was totally against an idea of Sabbath that left no room for mercy and solidarity. In the words of our Lord: "And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath."
The word of God calls us to a change of attitude today. None of us is carrying the world on his shoulders. None of us had the world in his pockets. If we remember this, then we would be humble and realize that the world is not our own. We are just wayfarers in it.
Let us pray: God, our merciful Father, we thank you for the example of humility your Son left for us. Teach us to live our lives in consonance with His dictates. Remove the spirit of pride from our hearts. Make our hearts meek and gentle. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.