Our first reading from the book of Exodus, recounts the event of the Passover sacrifice and meal. A lamb without blemish was taken from each family’s flock. It was slaughtered and the blood was put in a bowl. The Jewish people believed that the life of the animal was in its blood. Blood was literally the life of the animal. The Israelites were instructed to sprinkle some of the blood on the two doorposts and the lintel of every house that would be partaking in the sacrificial meal. Since blood was life, this would give a life bond to all the people involved. All the lambs sacrificed would then be roasted whole, with their head and shanks and inner organs intact. The people were in a hurry and did not have time to slaughter and prepare all the meat. They were also to eat unleavened bread. No time to have it rise. With loins girt, sandals on their feet and staff in their hands, they were to eat the roasted lamb, ready to move when God called. Homes blood-marked and people eating their sacrificed lamb, symbolized their unity as a people, united in food and the blood of the lambs. The Lord would pass over all the homes marked by the blood.
This ceremony emphasizes Unity as a people and being Obedient to what God is asking of them. It also stresses Preparedness, getting some food in your stomach for the journey, being dressed correctly and having the equipment needed for their travels, all of this done in moderation. Freedom will require a stripping down to basics. They needed a willingness to Leave Behind a way of life that was predictable though burdensome. When God gave the marching orders, GO! They should leave their departure point clean, burning up any of the lamb that was not eaten. Where they had been, served them well, but now they had to get ready for surprises by God.
You can almost feel the stomachs of the Israelites churning – their hearts full of excitement but also anxiety. They had dreamed of being free, but the face being given to their dream was unusual to say the least. The reality of getting free was somewhat scary. They were being asked to let go, to become empty and to let God fill them with life and freedom.
This moment in Jewish history has become “the template” for the following generations, on the call to freedom by God.
How many people there are who actually come to glory in their pain and woundedness. They have befriended their hurt and sinfulness and do not want to let got. They have taken ownership of it. They do not want to go through the “Passover” needed to come to freedom.
Live in unity with the Church; share in the common sacrifice of Jesus, the Eucharist; in Communion cover yourself with the blood of the Lamb; plunge into the darkness of freedom that is before you and then let you eyes get adjusted and rejoice in your newfound freedom.
Fr. Blaise Czaja, C.P. is an itinerant preacher and member of the Passionist community in Citrus Heights, California. He preaches parish missions across the country.