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ARCHBISHOP | Great events of faith: Exodus

Christ sums up and fulfills the Exodus — which forms a pattern for our lives

“The Israelites witnessed marvels; you also will witness marvels, greater and more splendid than those which accompanied them on their departure from Egypt.” –St. John Chrysostom

Words point to realities. And some realities, states the Catechism, point to other realities.

The words of the Old Testament point us to events in the history of Israel. But key events in the history of Israel also point us to their fulfillment in the life of Jesus. And, finally, those events in the life of Jesus point us to a pattern for our own lives.

The Exodus is a perfect example of these connections.

"Ten Commandments," Thomas Ingmire, Copyright 2002 The Saint John's Bible, Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minn. Used by permission. All rights reserved
What were the events of the Exodus? The oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, the birth and call of Moses, the 10 plagues, the Passover and departure from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the giving of the 10 Commandments, and so on. You can read about them in the first half of the Book of Exodus.

One of the fascinating things about the Gospels is that they show how Christ sums up the history of Israel with His life. As Israel was called out of Egypt, so Christ was called out of Egypt (Matthew 1:15). As Israel crossed the Red Sea, so Christ was baptized in the Jordan (Mark 1:9-11). As Israel spent 40 years in the desert, so Christ fasted and prayed for 40 days in the desert (Luke 4). As Israel received manna from heaven, so Christ offered His body as the true bread from heaven (John 6:32-35). St. Irenaeus called this the mystery of “recapitulation” — Christ summing up and fulfilling the history of Israel.

What’s equally fascinating, though, is how the experience of Christ and Israel form a pattern for our own lives! As Israel experienced slavery in Egypt, so each of us has experienced slavery to sin. As Israel was saved from its physical enemies (the pursuing army of Egypt) by crossing the Red Sea, so each of us is saved from our spiritual enemies (sin and the devil) by the waters of baptism. As Israel received bread from heaven in the manna during its time in the desert, so we receive bread from heaven in the Eucharist during our time on earth.

All of salvation history is centered on Christ. He recapitulated, in His body, all the mysteries of Israel’s life. He wants to live those mysteries again in us, as members of His body.

That means the truths and events of salvation history — like the Exodus — are in our bones. We’re meant to live them in Christ. Where have you already been freed from slavery to sin? That’s where Christ is living His mysteries in you. Where do you most want or need to be freed from slavery? That’s where Christ wants to bring about the Exodus of His people again.

For it’s the plan of the Son of God to make us and the whole Church partake in His mysteries and to extend them to and continue them in us and in His whole Church. This is His plan for fulfilling his mysteries in us.

St. John Eudes

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