Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Allegory in the Passover Command: Exodus 12:21-25

An Allegorical Interpretation of Sacred Scripture with a Christological, Marian and Josephine emphasis

 For those unfamiliar with the allegorical method -or at least the fancy name given to a method that comes naturally to all of us in some way- here is the explanation given by wikipedia: 

"Allegorical interpretation is an interpretive method (exegesis) which assumes that the Bible has various levels of meaning and tends to focus on the spiritual sense (which includes the allegorical sense, the moral (or tropological) sense, and the anagogical sense) as opposed to the literal sense."

Pericope (Meaning the selected passage for study)

21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel, and said to them, "Select lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood which is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to slay you. 24 You shall observe this rite as an ordinance for you and for your sons for ever. 25 And when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service.

Exodus 12:21-25[1]

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel, and said to them, "select lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the passover lamb.”
(Exodus 12:21).

1a. “Then Moses called all the elders of Israel, and said to them…kill the passover lamb” is another way of saying in the allegorical sense: “Then Christ through the See of Peter called all the bishops and priests of the Church, and said to them…celebrate the sacrifice of the Holy Mass”. In another sense, as was Moses the father of Israel, so too is St. Joseph the Father of the New Israel the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, by merit of His being the Virginal Father of Jesus. Thus one can interpret the above verse to allude to St. Joseph speaking to the Apostles –the elders of Israel- in their blessed state in heaven to “select lambs”, that is, victim souls from the Church Militant for the sake of the whole Church, the salvation of souls and for the glory of God (although it is God’s Will working through these chosen one’s of His as active mediators). For indeed the Church Triumphant retains an active role in the workings of the Church Militant bellow, namely the Virgin Mary and Joseph, and also the Apostles if any out of all the saints were to maintain an important role. But what would it mean in this regard –“according to your families” it could perhaps refer to the portion or aspect of the Church Militant entrusted to each particular of the original Apostles, excluding Judas Iscariot and including Matthias and Paul.

1b. Allegorically speaking Jesus is the Passover Lamb, since in regards to how Jesus died for our redemption on the Cross, Paul writes, saying: “For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:7b). This command to celebrate the Passover and “kill the passover lamb” is allegorically a command to celebrate the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. “According to your families” refers to how this sacrifice of the Mass is a family celebration, and this family is the Church the New Israel, for whom our Paschal Lamb -Christ in the Eucharist- is offered. By the use of the plural “select lambs” it can be understood to refer to the multiplicity of this single sacrifice of Christ the New Lamb on the Cross, a sacrifice which is made present through eternity at each and every Mass.

1c. In a deeply mystical sense “yourselves” refers to the Persons of the Holy Trinity. Thus “select lambs for yourselves” –originally spoken by Moses- is the prayer of Christ Jesus the New Moses through St. Joseph who is in a lesser sense a New Moses –but in, with and through Christ- to God the Triune-Shepherd (Gen 49:24-25). What then is Joseph asking of the Triune Shepherd?

Select choice lambs,
O Shepherd of Israel;
Lambs wholesome and without spot,
Wrinkle or blemish;
Lambs who have had their
Fleece washed in the Blood of Thy Son;
Whose wool is as white as snow
And as fair as the face of the Virgin.
O conceive these lambs
Throughout ages to come,
Through the Supernal Rachel;
And fatten them on pastures green,
And on that finest of all wheat.
Then put them to the slaughter,
Let their martyr-blood fill the basin of mercy;
Roasting their flesh
In the flame of justice and love.
For then the new covenant in Thy Son’s
Blood will overflow anew;
And Thou will feast with hasty delight,
And the universe shall be sustained,
And Israel’s iniquities cleansed;
And the Virgin Daughter shall clap and sing
As in the days of old:
And all shall go forth
Into the dance.
The dancing of they the
Merrymakers whom Thou led through the sea,
Delivering them from Pharaoh
And all their enemies.

Thus resounds the Canticle for Choice Lambs, the prayer of Joseph before the Holy Trinity to select and slaughter countless chosen souls as victims for the sake of the world, the Church and His very own Glory.

“Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin...”
(Exodus 12:22a)

2a. The hyssop branch alludes to St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary and Virginal Father of Jesus. For when the Patriarch Jacob gave his blessing to his son Joseph, he said: “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring, his branches run over the wall” (Gen 49:22). Truly our Joseph is a fruitful bough planted by the living spring of the Precious Blood; and mystically this bough of Joseph that is connected with the wall is the hyssop; since in Scripture we read: “the hyssop that grows out of the wall” (1 Kings 4:33). Indeed Joseph is the hyssop that grows out of the wall who is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Furthermore the “bunch of hyssop” refers to Joseph and those who are one with him in devotion. Thus those devoted to Joseph are fellow hyssop branches with him. This is something we should all strive for. “And dip it in the blood” refers to how Joseph was completely hidden in the Blood of Christ, which is to say: he was immersed in the mystery and Fiat of redemption, and was a perfect sharer in the New Covenant. It also alludes to the mystery of how only through Joseph can we have access to this saving Blood of the Lamb; since he is the Guardian and Treasurer of the Precious Blood. For through him this Blood was spared from being shed by Herod; and through his authority, this same Blood was shed for the first time at the Circumcision of Christ. We must graft ourselves to this Holy Hyssop of Joseph through devotion to him if we want to benefit as much as possible from the spring of redemption, and bear fruit not just thirty or sixty fold, but one hundred fold for the delight of God the Father. To those who graft themselves to Joseph he speaks to them in the quiet of their souls the Canticle of the Holy Cloak:

Come let us dip ourselves as branches
Of hyssop into the Blood
Of the Lamb.
Let us coat ourselves completely
And entirely
In this Most Precious Blood.
May this Blood be the enamel
Of our soul,
The shield of our minds,
The life of our heart,
And may it cover our bodies
From head to toe,
Even unto the heel.

2b. “Dip it in the blood which is in the basin” is an allegory of the Blessed Virgin Mary; for She was the living vessel and living basin in which the Blood of Jesus did flow. Since entirely from Her own body came the blood of the Redeeming Lamb. The Hebrew word for basin is mizraq, with the first letter of this word the letter Mem which means ‘water’. Indeed throughout Scripture the basin is associated with water. At the Last Supper Jesus “poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet” (Jn 13:5). This passage itself can be interpreted to mean that Jesus pours the water of grace into the basin who is Mary, and that from and through Her –the Mediatrix of Grace- He cleanses His followers of sin. The fact that “the blood…is in the basin” teaches us that Jesus and His redeeming Blood of mercy is stored within the basin of Mary. Yet whereas blood normally stains and makes dirty, the Blood of the New Lamb purifies and makes clean like the purest of waters. For the Blood of the New Lamb is white as wool; thus it is written: “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Is 1:18).

2c. “Dip it [the hyssop] in the blood which is in the basin” is not a mere request but a command. So it is that we like Joseph, are to dip ourselves into the Blood of Christ by entering into union with Mary through our true devotion to Her. Concerning those who have done this we can apply the following verse: “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:14b). Joseph achieved this holy dipping, this sacred bathing, this celestial washing, and mystical fulfillment of baptism like no one else. This is why he is called “a just man” (Mt 1:19). Since he wore the robe of Perfect Righteousness, that is, the Holy Cloak of the Precious Blood. Thus Joseph’s righteousness was Christ Himself, but in a most exalted way. Yet the secret to Joseph’s success in holiness was his passionate devotion to Mary. So it is that the Scripture: “Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin...” can be understood in the following way: “Be devoted to Joseph and enter into his loving devotion to Mary, so that by this means you will clothe yourself in the wool of sanctity, the Precious Blood of Christ Jesus.”

“And touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood which is in the basin” (Exodus 12:22b)

3a. “And touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood” refers to how one must allow the hyssop -who is God the Father in, with and through St. Joseph- to mark one’s soul. See the commentary on Exodus 12:23 (5a.) for the allegory of the lintel and doorposts. “And touch…with the blood” alludes to the Blood of the New Lamb, participation and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the fusion of oneself with the Fiat of Redemption, the Divine Mercy and the seal of eternal life and salvation one receives at Baptism. “The Blood which is in the basin” affirms what has been spoken of above (2c.); that the Blood of Christ Jesus, that Redemption itself, that the remedy to our sinfulness, and the draught of sanctifying refreshment, is to be found in Our Lady who is the Supernal Basin. For just as the basin would be held under the neck of the lamb when it was slaughtered, so as to gather the blood that was shed; so did Mary the Living Basin stand at the foot of the Cross when the Divine Lamb was slain for our salvation; and She gathered every drop that fell when the sword of God’s Justice slit Christ’s sacred neck.

3b. In another place in Exodus we read: “And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar.” (24:6). The half of the blood put in the basins refers to those who through their true devotion to Mary, become as little basins in Her. Thus this passage alludes to those who through Mary and Her role of Co-Redemptrix come to share in the work of Christ’s Redemption as little co-redemptrix’s. Thus “the basin” also alludes to those who abide in Mary, thus in the Divine Will which She is filled with. The other half of the blood thrown against the altar symbolises the essential role of Christ as the Redeemer who died upon the altar of the Cross. So it is that even though Mary is Co-Redemptrix and those who live in God’s Will are little co-redeemers; it is always Christ who is operating this redemptive work for the salvation of souls –He who lives in us as Paul says, and who works through us.

“And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning” (Exodus 12:22c)

4a. It is interesting how the passage says “out of the door of his house”, when it should in one sense read: ‘And none of you shall go out of his house’. There must be a reason for this, and this is because the door of his house is essential to this divine warning which gives this instruction so as to prevent the death of the Israelites. His house, who’s house? The house of the soul. The door of his house, what is this door? The faculty or the power of one’s will, since through this faculty God can enter or leave, and so too can the harlot of sin leave and enter. Thus “none of you shall go out of the door of his house” is the warning given to the soul in a state of grace, and in a higher sense, the soul who lives in Divine Will; for once one goes out or passes through the door of one’s own will, one will be struck dead. This death is the loss of sanctifying grace to she who was in a state of grace before; and this death is the loss of the height of sanctity of abiding in the House (see 5c.) of the Divine Will by being reduced to the state of the human and natural mode of sanctity.

4b. In the Song of Songs we read: “If she is a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.” (Song 8:9b). We can interpret this verse to mean that those who disobey God’s Will, and thus do their own will, are like doors –in the sense the door of their house, of their soul, is open. But “if she is a wall, we will build upon her a battlement of silver” (Song 8:9a) refers to those who obey God’s Will, and whose door of self-will is shut, so that it is as if they were like a sealed wall –sealed in the House of God. “We will build upon her a battlement of silver” refers to how “we” –the Holy Trinity- shall build a battlement and fortress of sanctity –which wages war on the evil one- on those who abide in His Will. The “silver” is an allusion to our Lady, since God through Joseph will build the House of the Holy Spirit with the Virgin Mary, upon those who remain in this dwelling and place of rest and holiness (5c.).

4c. “The door of his house” also refers to the Virgin Mary who is the Door of his house –Joseph’s house. Since concerning the Joseph of old, a type of St. Joseph, it is written: “he made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions” (Ps 105:21). Therefore “and none of you shall go out of the door of his house” is an ordinance to never depart from Marian devotion which is the doorway to sanctity. Through one’s devotion to Joseph, one abides in the house of holiness and does not exit the doorway of the Mother who is Wisdom.

4d. “Until the morning” on the literal level speaks of how God commanded His people to remain in their houses until morning, until after the nighttime in which His hand went forth to slay the Egyptians, those who did not have the seal of the lamb (Rev 9:3-4). Thus the night is associated with destruction and death, the morning with redemption and life.

4e. The very term “until” denotes patience, and waiting on the Lord with faith and trusting hope to fulfil His promises and to complete His action. We ourselves must learn such patience when it comes to waiting on the Lord to complete the work of our sanctification. In the meantime we must wait “until the morning”, until that time when we will finally live in Divine Will, in perfect holiness. In a sense this entire life is a night, and the world and life to come is the morning. So in this manner “until the morning” alludes to how we must confine ourselves in the House of the Church, and in the House of God’s Will here bellow, in order to obtain the true freedom of the life to come –the Promised Land of paradise, where there will be no need to ‘shut the doors’, since we will be free from all temptations and evils. Wherefore we come to an understanding of the Psalm: “Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to possess the land; you will look on the destruction of the wicked.” (Ps 37:34).

4f. We read in the first book of Samuel the occasion where Samuel is lying down in adoration in the Temple, when God speaks to Him. In this situation Samuel receives the message of a curse, “that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering for ever” (1 Sam 3:14). Yet Samuel does not go straight away to inform Eli of this message but rather “Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord” (1 Sam 3:15a) and eventually told Eli “everything and hid nothing from him.” (1 Sam 1:18). However in between the time of receiving the knowledge of the curse and revealing it, Samuel has to bear the suffering of such knowledge. In the same way this parallels how the Israelites received the knowledge of the tenth curse –the death of the first-borns- and had to bear the cross of this knowledge before it was actualised. In the same manner did Jesus have to bear the suffering of knowing the world’s sins and every evil “until the morning” of His Resurrection victory. In the same way must we bear the suffering of our own imperfections and sins, as well as that of our neighbours, whilst we abide in the night of this world, “until the morning” of the life to come. Yet this suffering of love in the meantime is the most pleasing offering to the Lord when united through faith to that very same cross which He carried not just on the last day of His life, but each and every moment since His conception in the dark waters of the Immaculate Womb.

4g.I. However although Samuel waited until morning before He opened the doors, seemingly Israel opened their doors during the night, because having “summoned Moses and Aaron by night”, Pharaoh commanded them to leave in haste, which they did (Ex 12:31-33). Thus in a sense, morning came early for Israel; and this could allude to how it was dawn by the time they opened their doors to leave. Therefore the phrase “until the morning” can be interpreted to mean “until the dawn”. So what then do the Isralites –the souls of those seeking to abide in the day of God’sWill do whilst they wait? They strive to hasten the coming of the dawn with praises of yearning and thanksgiving, saying: “Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!” (Ps 57:8). But “who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?” ((Song 6:10). It is Our Lady, She who as the Immaculate Conception is the Dawn of Grace. So then, when does this dawn come? When does this morning arrive? When the soul is one in union with our Lady as was St. Joseph. This is what it means: “until the morning”.

4g.II. As noted above, morning came early for Israel who fled by dawn -when night still flirts with the morn. Truly for the Christian the morning of eternal life comes early through Baptism, and comes evermore earlier through Holy Communion. And indeed the morning of heavenly bliss comes early for those who live in Divine Will. To not go out of the door of one’s house “until the morning” –which is to say to remain in the interior house of God’s Will and keep the door of one’s will shut until the life to come- is to share in the death and burial of Jesus. Since “Samuel lay until morning”, an allegory of Jesus who lay on the Cross and in the tomb until the morning of His Resurrection. Thus to exit and open the door –when one’s will is totally fused to God Will- is to attain a state of sanctity which Paul calls “the resurrection” (Phil 3:11).. He writes saying: “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Phil 3:10-12). Yet although Paul could not attain this sanctity of living in Divine Will as do the blessed in heaven, we through grace in this eschatological time of mercy can -even here and now in this life.

4h. “And none of you shall go out of the door of his house” can also be understood to refer to how one must remain in one’s interior house of self-knowledge -a knowledge of one’s own nothingness and wickedness- which is built upon the sure foundation of the knowledge of God’s Goodness and Mercy –which is an awareness of the Blood of Salvation which marks one’s being. For indeed if we exit the house of self-knowledge, through the door of self-righteousness, our faith, hope and love in God will be slain, since we shall instead be placing faith, hope and love in our own selves and our own abilities –outside of the home of Christ wherein our true-selves and self-knowledge abide. “until the morning” refers to how one ought not to depart the house of self-knowledge until they have received the special grace of God’s Will in perfect union; for then wherever they go they shall be armed with self-knowledge. In the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena our Lord says: “If she preservers until the end she will come to the house of self-knowledge, where she shuts herself up in watching and continuous prayer, completely cut off from worldly company” –as did the Apostles for nine days after Christ’s Ascension until the coming of the Spirit of Loving Confidence at Pentecost. “Why does she shut herself up? Through fear, because she knows how imperfect she is. And through her longing to attain a genuine and free love. She sees well that there is no other way to attain it, and so she waits with a lively faith for my coming, so that she may grow in grace” and thus go forth in the filial confidence of one who walks the path of perfection.[2] Thus “until the morning” refers to that mystical Pentecost that takes place in the souls of those who yearn with ardent desire to dwell in the land of holiness. This Pentecost can occur every day on one level, and especially after one’s abandoning the imperfect path of fear for that of the perfect path of love. Such a Pentecost is a new birth in the Spirit; from which the Lord leads them like a gay gazelle from mountain top to mountain top –ascending in their union with God as they descend to self. To flee one’s house of self-knowledge in fear toward that of self-knowledge in love is to put on the Eternal Youth of the Lord Jesus, and to put off the sensuality of one’s false, one’s old man. Wherefore it is written, concerning this birth in sanctity: “Your people will offer themselves freely on the day you lead your host upon the holy mountains. From the womb of the morning like dew your youth will come to you.” (Ps 110:3). What else is this Youthful Dew of the morning’s womb except that of the Fleece of the Virgin Mary, that fleece foreshadowed by Gideon’s fleece which opened the pathway for Israel’s’ victory –a type of the Church’s victory and her individual member’s victory, in Christ, over Satan (Judges 6:36-40). So then, let us put on this Sacred Fleece of purity sublime. This Sacred Fleece of filial confidence. This Sacred Fleece which is our bridal garment as brides of Christ in She the Immaculate Bride (Mt 22:11). For then we “will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.”(Ps 91:5-6). This Sacred and Golden Fleece is also the Cloak of Joseph (see 2a.) for it is written concerning the Joseph of old, a type of the Joseph of new: “The archers fiercely attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him sorely; yet his bow remained unmoved, his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel)…who will bless you with blessings of heaven above…blessings of the breasts and of the womb.” (Gen 49:23-25).

The Tenth Plague

“For the Lord will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to slay you.” (Exodus 12:23).

5a. “For the Lord will pass through to slay the Egyptians” refers to how the Justice of God must devour the wicked, since they themselves ask to be damned through their rejection of God’s hand of mercy. Yet such destruction is not the Lord’s desire for He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). And in another place the Lord affirms this desire of His –that the wicked mark themselves in the mercy of God through repentant sorrow and trust: “If a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.” (Ez 18:21). So it is that the death of the Egyptians was the fault of their own, as is the damnation of the wicked. For the Egyptians refused to turn to the Lord God despite the ten plagues which were ten invitations to mercy; and so it is with the damned, who refuse not ten invitations to mercy but countless. “And when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts” can be understood to allegorically refer to God beholding His own image and likeness, the reflection of His only begotten Son, in the souls of those who are blessed. These blessed souls are those who are marked through baptism with the seal of the Blood of the New Lamb upon the lintel of their soul and upon the doorposts of their body and mind.

5b. “The Lord will pass over the door” refers to how the Justice of God will pass-over those who are sealed with the Blood of the Supernal Passover Lamb who is Christ. We read this in Scripture when concerning locusts given “the power like the scorpions on earth” –a symbol of those instruments used to enact the Justice of God, especially in the latter days: “they were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree” –symbols of soul’s in the state of grace in varying degrees- “but only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads.” (Rev 9:3b-4).

5c. “And will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to slay you” is a passage that alludes to a verse from Proverbs: “The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the abode of the righteous.” (3:33). Yet what is “the abode of the righteous”; that place where the destroyer cannot enter, and where death is unknown? It is the Holy House of Nazareth, which is not so much a place as it is the triune-union between the earthly trinity of Jesus, Mary and Joseph –the Holy Family- who constitute the Order of the Hypostatic Union. This Holy House, this Abode of the Righteous, is thus a state of being; and this state is to live in the Divine Will, which involves spiritually participating in the actions and relationships of the Holy Family. This one does through living out one’s ordinary day in the spirit of prayer, whilst bearing the intention to operate as a fourth member of the Holy Family. “Your houses” in the plural refers to the many individuals who live in Divine Will. Thus “your houses” refers to all the blessed in heaven who necessarily abide in the Holy House because of their beatific-state; but it also refers to all those who whilst living in this land of exile come to dwell in this Eternal House of the Divine Will. Those who abide in this Holy House here and now, abide in the Love of God in a most profound manner; thus fulfilled in them is the following Scripture: “perfect love casteth out all fear” (1 Jn 4:18). In this respect, “And will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to slay you” is a referral to how God will not let the spirit of fear enter into the mind and hearts of those who abide in His Will; for truly this fear can slay one from a state of dwelling in His Will to a lower state of merely camping upon the boarders of His Will.

“You shall observe this rite as an ordinance for you and for your sons for ever.” (Exodus 12:24).

6a. “You shall observe this rite as an ordinance” literally means to observe the Passover as a binding commandment from God. Spiritually speaking this means to observe the celebration of the Holy Mass “for you and for your sons forever”. Since not only is it a command “for you and for your sons” but it is an observance which is good and delightful “for you and for your sons forever.” Forever, because the merit one pours into their soul through the New Passover of the Mass, and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which “prolongs and intensified all that takes place during the”[3] Mass; is a lasting merit, an eternal fruit that will endure until the life to come as treasure now which is stored away for eternity (Mt 6:20).

6b. “This rite” does not just refer to the Passover but also in a particular sense the dipping of the hyssop into the blood, and the spreading of it over the lintel and the door posts. Thus as an ordinance of salvation we are commanded to immerse ourselves as hyssop into the Blood of Christ the New Lamb; and furthermore, as an ordinance of sanctification, we are commanded to fuse ourselves with Joseph through devotion to Him, so that we might come to attain a true devotion for Mary, through which we will be able to lavish upon ourselves seas upon seas of this Sacred Blood, over our mind, body, soul and it’s faculties of memory, intellect and will. This bathing and dousing ourselves in the Precious Blood –in the Fiat of Redemption- is not just beneficial “for you” but “for your sons” –which is to say, for those souls past, present and future who will benefit from this holy work of spreading and sprinkling the Blood of the Lamb. This eternal dimension is alluded to by the term “for ever” –thus we are to keep this ordinance of the Mass, and of fusing ourselves in the Fiat of Redemption with Joseph and Mary, not just now, or tomorrow, but “for ever” by carrying this ordinance out in the Spirit in the past, present, future and beyond –on behalf of all men of every age.

“And when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service.” (Exodus 12:25).

7a. “And when you come to the land which the Lord will give you” speaks of namely two things: firstly the coming to the land of living permanently in Divine Will whilst on earth; and secondly, the possession of the beatific vision in all fullness, in the life to come.

7b. “Which the Lord will give you” indicates how eternal beatitude and the grace of abiding in Divine Will is a pure gift from God; a gift which is given. “Will give you” teaches us that it is a gift which requires perseverance, constancy and patience; for such is the nature of the best of gifts, they take the longest to receive. After all, did it not take nearly four thousand years (one can interpret this allegorically if they will) for the Word to come in flesh? The term “will give you” also indicates a required disposition on our part if we are to “come to the land” of promise: this disposition is a passive and open receptivity, an open mouth, which is to say an open will, to the gift of God’s Will. For it is written: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Ps 81:10). All we must do is open wide the mouth of our souls to the grace and food of God’s Will. “My bread is to do the will of the one who sent me” (Jn 4:34) says the Lord. In a like manner is the Divine Will the food of those who believe. “Open your mouth wide” refers to opening our will with ardent longing and passionate desire. This open mouth of desire we must make our own through faith like Jacob who opened the mouth of the well for Rachel (Gen 29:10). The Created Well is the Virgin Mary, who is one with the Uncreated Well of the Holy Spirit. This Well we must become one with, and in this way we shall fulfill the command to “open wide your mouth”. In turn we shall “come to the land” of living in Divine Will with great haste, “for the Lord gives wisdom” that is the Promised Land; and “from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” which are the maidens of Wisdom who will lead one “to the land” where milk flows and honey drips.

7c. “And when you come to the land” is phrased in such a way that it is assumed or rather known for certain that we will come to the land. All we need is to gather the three receptive vessels of Mary’s hopeful trust, patient longing and persevering faith, so that we will surely “come to the land” of Divine Will in this life and in the life to come; for the attaining of this land is given by the Lord, not taken from the Lord; received from the Lord and not produced from our own righteousness.

7d. “As he has promised” alludes in a literal sense to the covenant’s God had made with Noah and Abraham, and his seed in the line of Isaac and Jacob (Gen 9; 17:8-9, 18). With Abraham God promised to give to him this very land, a promise which was to be fulfilled in the time of Moses. For from the bush the Lord spoke to Moses saying: “I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex 37c-8a).

7e. In the allegorical sense “as he has promised” refers to the promise we have of eternal life in Christ Jesus, He who is our Promised Land. It also refers to the promise of our Lord to dwell in us and make of us a Promised Land. Since in the Gospel of John He promises saying: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (Jn 14:23). What else is this saying but God will make the soul of she who loves Him a sacred temple and dwelling place like that of the Holy House of Nazareth. Each soul who comes to live in Divine Will –which is the deepest fulfillment of God coming to live within one’s soul- is a room within the Holy House. “As he has promised” teaches us that he has promised since before all ages, to sanctify and make His dwelling within us. Before we were born, we existed in the mind of God who longed to fulfill in time His promise of abiding inside of us.

7f. “You shall keep this service” on the literal level refers to how the Israelites were to keep this Passover ritual forever, even when they came into the Promised Land. In the same way do the blessed “keep this service”, the service of the Holy Mass the New Passover throughout eternity in the Promised Land of heaven; since “in the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle”.[4] “You shall keep this service” is also an ordinance to remember and ponder upon the Paschal Mystery –the incarnation, life, death and Resurrection of Christ; yet not merely in an abstract way, but by entering into this Mystery, this Eternal Liturgy, so as to truly “keep this service”. This one does through interior participation in the Holy Mass; through ardent reception and thanksgiving in Holy Communion; through faithful praying of the Divine Office; through Eucharistic Adoration; through praying the Holy Rosary –a meditation and participation in the Paschal Mystery; and above all, yet inseparable from all of the above according to one’s state of life -through striving to live in God’s Will which is to live in, and to inhabit the Paschal Mystery.

7g. On another level, we can understand the verse “And when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service” refers to how when Joseph, the Virginal Father of Jesus, comes to dwell in a particular soul –the land- through their devotion to Him; a soul which the Lord will give to Joseph as the Lord gave His only Begotten Son; then Joseph shall keep the mystical service of the Passover, of the Paschal Mystery within one’s soul. For indeed the literal Passover is conducted by the head of the family, usually the father of the house; so indeed Joseph the Father of God’s House the Church, is called to “keep this service” in the hearts of those who welcome him. This office God the Father has entrusted to Joseph, and through him He carries it out.

[1] Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Copyright 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc.
[2] St. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, 65.
[3] Sacramentum Caritatis, Apostolic Exhortation, Benedict XVI, 66.
[4] Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Paul VI, 1963, 8.

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