Scripture: Lectionary 394.  Exodus 12:37-42.  Psalm 136: 1.23-24, 10-12,13-15.  Matthew 12:14-21:

The verb for “going out” (ytsah) is a thematic action verb for the liberation and deliverance of Israel from Egypt.  This stay in Egypt was 430 years of slavery and hard labor in building cities for the oppressors.  This even is the greatest in Israel and is celebrated by each generation every year at the Passover.  The event in Scripture has three distinct and long passages about it, namely, the Exodus account which we are now listening to, the Song of Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron, and the Psalm that is used in today’s liturgy for a responsorial.   In the Psalm we capture the key idea in this verse: “And brought Israel out from their midst; for his mercy endures forever; with a mighty hand and outstretched arm, for his mercy endures forever.”

In Matthew we learn that Jesus cures many and tells them to be quiet about these miracles.  Mark seemed to make this into a minor theme in the first part of his Gospel;  it is the so called “Messianic Secret.”  Matthew does not emphasize this secret but simply refers to it without specific theological intent.  The citation from the prophet Isaiah sums up the manner in which Jesus will do his deeds and his preaching and teaching.  He is seen by Matthew as the Suffering Servant of the Lord who extends his message to the Gentiles. In him they have found hope for their salvation.  Jesus liberates and delivers them from their bondage to sin.

In a sense, the passages show us that God is concerned with the many as well as with the few or even the individual.  All of humanity was created in the image and likeness of God.  It is God who is our Creator and our Redeemer.  The Chosen People are totally liberated and freed from their slavery.  The Gentiles are redeemed from their slavery to sin by the healing message of Jesus given to all of us through the apostles and disciples of the Lord.

The beautiful passage from Isaiah is known as the first of the Suffering Servant hymns.  Matthew does not follow the Hebrew tradition nor the Septuagint but is sharing with us his own “lectio divina” of the text after carefully pondering it over and applying it to Jesus’ healing power, to his kindness and love, and to his concern for all peoples.  It is the heart of the message for today and leads us to pay more attention to the Lord and his loving-kindness which gives us hope for victory over evil and sin.  Amen.

Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.