ivine Office Weekly Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours
First Week of Lent
Hebrew derives from “Habiru,” originally a sociological term used by Egyptians referring to displaced people, often described as disturbers of the peace, malcontents who harassed the power status quo and often relied on as a workforce for their building projects.
“I will take you as my own people, and you shall have me as your God.”
During Lent we get to hear again a narrative of the selection process in which God dramatically enters the realm of real people in real time. This story tells of a coming to –by going out, of an identity not only of a people, but for them, THE ONE God who is and does (YHWH: I am who I am and I’ll do what I want).1 YHWH without Exodus is no YHWH at all!
Exodus tells not just of itineraries, but of “the record of human interaction and divine grace, of human success and failure, and of divine assistance and forgiveness.”2
The book begins with the people in an alien land, unmindful of the promises of YHWH to them, oppressed by a cruel Pharaoh acting as a “god” toward them by regulating every aspect of their life and keeping them slaves in Egypt. YHWH defeats Pharaoh by a series of ten plagues and brings the people to his mountain, Sinai –an anticipation of Canaan and Zion. At Sinai, YHWH confirms Moses as the people’s leader, gives them the divine law, establishes the divine dwelling, and sets them on their journey to the divine land Canaan. In this task Moses is the servant, anticipating in his own life the people’s movement from Egypt to Sinai. Moses becomes the great servant of God, the model for the biblical portraits of Joshua, Jeremiah, Second Isaiah and Jesus. Inescapably sharing in the people’s plight, he is also close to God; by his mediation he brings people and God into faithful relationship. Exodus is an indelible portrait of the community of
God, called from false and demeaning servitude in an alien land to journey to the promised land. 3
The Exodus story raises the call this Lent and every Lent for new Moses-like prophets to make us aware of the disquieted, apathetical and even self-reliant life-styles –idols all, which command control of modern life at the exacting price of genuine freedom. These prophets –you, me and each of us when we dialogue with YWWH until our objections overruled– must speak hope against fatigue of contemporary enslavement and energize us to the possibility of life where misery is called out as evil and new life transcends as the substance of inspired aspiration realized!
What are your objections this Lent to stepping toward holy ground and leading your people closer to their identity in God
–to living out your baptismal promises leading others to new life?
1 Jesus and Yahweh, The Names Divine, Harold Bloom, p. 86; 2005, Riverhead Books
2 The Collegeville Bible Commentary, pp. 79-80; 1988, Liturgical Press
3 The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, p. 44; 1990, Prentice Hall