Friday in the Fifteenth Week of the Year, July 19, 2019 

Christ Our Sabbath, Our Passover Lamb 
In 1892, John G. Foote published the famed song, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you”, based on the First Reading of today. When God brought punishing plagues on the Egyptians for oppressing his people, he saved the Hebrew families, which had eaten the paschal lamb and smeared its blood on the door posts. In the New Covenant, Christ communicates his salvation to us in the Eucharist, the new Passover meal. Here he is our Passover lamb that saved us by his blood from the slavery of sin. He is the paschal lamb, the Lamb of God, who is our food on the journey out of Egypt (sin and death), on the road of life.
Laws are not above the service to people, for the service of God does not contradict the love and mercy to be shown to people. Laws, commandments are based on the freedom God has brought to us in Christ. 

1 Reading: Exodus 11:10—12:14
Although Moses and Aaron performed various wonders in Pharaoh’s presence, the LORD made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the children of Israel leave his land. The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. It shall not be eaten raw or boiled, but roasted whole, with its head and shanks and inner organs. None of it must be kept beyond the next morning; whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up. “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. 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.” 

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 116:12-13, 15 and 16bc, 17-18
R. (13) I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD. R.

Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds. R.

To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people. R.

Alleluia: John 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord,
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. 

Gospel: Matthew 12:1-8
Jesus was going through a field of grain on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the Sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” 

Passover is a feast of great significance for Jews and Christians. Its beginnings are recounted for us today in the reading from Exodus. It was a spring feast, marked by rites wherein a young lamb was slain and cooked and consumed in its entirety. The lamb’s blood was then sprinkled on the doorposts of the homes. The avenging angel would recognize the homes of the Israelites and spare their children from death. This was the great act of God’s love and power in bringing his children to freedom.
Jesus’ Passover awareness appears in a number of ways. He is depicted as the new Lamb of God who delivers all people from the slavery of sin. In all of the Gospels, the passion and death of Christ take place at Passover. In three of the Gospels, the Eucharist is instituted during the Passover supper. All of this clearly views the saving work of Christ against the background of its Old Testament type.
The Gospel issue of picking and eating grain on the Sabbath had its own importance, but it pales in insignificance to the larger picture of Christ’s saving action. When all is said and done, it is not what a person eats that makes him unclean. Purity springs from the workings of the heart. 

Of course, there are commandments. But the Lord himself tells us that they may never stand in the way of mercy and of the loving service of people. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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