|Exodus 12:21-36 ©|
Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Go and choose animals from the flock on behalf of your families, and kill the Passover victim. Then take a spray of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and with the blood from the basin touch the lintel and the two doorposts. Let none of you venture out of the house till morning. Then, when the Lord goes through Egypt to strike it, and sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, he will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to enter your homes and strike. You must keep these rules as an ordinance for all time for you and your children. When you enter the land that the Lord is giving you, as he promised, you must keep to this ritual. And when your children ask you, “What does this ritual mean?” you will tell them, “It is the sacrifice of the Passover in honour of the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt, and struck Egypt but spared our houses.”’ And the people bowed down and worshipped. The sons of Israel then departed, and they obeyed. They carried out the orders the Lord had given to Moses and Aaron.
And at midnight the Lord struck down all the first-born in the land of Egypt: the first-born of Pharaoh, heir to his throne, the first-born of the prisoner in his dungeon, and the first-born of all the cattle. Pharaoh and all his courtiers and all the Egyptians got up in the night, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without its dead. And it was night when Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. ‘Get up,’ he said ‘you and the sons of Israel, and get away from my people. Go and offer worship to the Lord as you have asked and, as you have asked, take your flocks and herds, and go. And also ask a blessing on me.’ The Egyptians urged the people to hurry up and leave the land because, they said, ‘Otherwise we shall all be dead.’ So the people carried off their dough, still unleavened, on their shoulders, their kneading bowls wrapped in their cloaks.
The sons of Israel did as Moses had told them and asked the Egyptians for silver ornaments and gold, and for clothing. The Lord gave the people such prestige in the eyes of the Egyptians, that they gave them what they asked. So they plundered the Egyptians.
|From the Mirror of Love by Saint Aelred, abbot|
|Christ, the model of brotherly love|
The perfection of brotherly love lies in the love of one’s enemies. We can find no greater inspiration for this than grateful remembrance of the wonderful patience of Christ. He who is more fair than all the sons of men offered his fair face to be spat upon by sinful men; he allowed those eyes that rule the universe to be blindfolded by wicked men; he bared his back to the scourges; he submitted that head which strikes terror in principalities and powers to the sharpness of the thorns; he gave himself up to be mocked and reviled, and at the end endured the cross, the nails, the lance, the gall, the vinegar, remaining always gentle, meek and full of peace.
In short, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearers he kept silent, and did not open his mouth.
Who could listen to that wonderful prayer, so full of warmth, of love, of unshakeable serenity – Father, forgive them – and hesitate to embrace his enemies with overflowing love? Father, he says, forgive them. Is any gentleness, any love, lacking in this prayer?
Yet he put into it something more. It was not enough to pray for them: he wanted also to make excuses for them. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. They are great sinners, yes, but they have little judgement; therefore, Father, forgive them. They are nailing me to the cross, but they do not know who it is that they are nailing to the cross: if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, Father, forgive them. They think it is a lawbreaker, an impostor claiming to be God, a seducer of the people. I have hidden my face from them, and they do not recognise my glory; therefore, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
If someone wishes to love himself he must not allow himself to be corrupted by indulging his sinful nature. If he wishes to resist the promptings of his sinful nature he must enlarge the whole horizon of his love to contemplate the loving gentleness of the humanity of the Lord. Further, if he wishes to savour the joy of brotherly love with greater perfection and delight, he must extend even to his enemies the embrace of true love.
But if he wishes to prevent this fire of divine love from growing cold because of injuries received, let him keep the eyes of his soul always fixed on the serene patience of his beloved Lord and Saviour.