Holy Wednesday (2017)

8508303611_afc7c30ae6_nThroughout Holy Week, the Scripture readings are also reminding us of the Passover story in the book of Exodus. That first Passover and Exodus serve as a prefiguring of Christ’s own life, death and resurrection. Those ancient events help us understand the events of Holy Week, and what transpires in Holy Week reveals the true meaning of the original Exodus and Passover.

In the Gospels, the Evangelists intentionally remind us of the Passover narrative – by remembering the events of the Exodus, we come to understand the Christian life as being revealed in the Old Testament.   Holy Week reminds us that as Christians we are sojourners on earth – in exile from our true home in Paradise – we should have a sense that there is something more to life than than which we experience daily.

“In the missionary account in Matt. 10, Jesus forbids his disciples to take several items: on their way they should not take gold, silver, copper, wallet (for bread), two shirts, sandals, or staff. Mark 6 allows the staff and sandals and says that the disciples should not take bread, wallet, copper, or two shirts. Luke 9 and 10 together disallow taking staff, wallet, bread, silver or purse. Now it is intriguing that most of the items in Matt. 10 and its parallels famously appear in the exodus from Egypt. Exodus 12 tells us that Moses commanded the Israelites to eat the Passover hurriedly, with sandals (12:11) on their feet and staff in hand, and that they went forth on their way (12:39) with bread, with silver (12:35), with gold (12:35) and with clothing (12:35-36). Deuteronomy 8:4 and 29:5, moreover, relate that the Israelites’ garments were indestructible, so that they only needed one pair of sandals and one set of clothes. Is it just coincidence that Jesus’ disciples are similarly in a hurry but still more so, and that they accordingly take even less than the fleeing Israelites? Maybe Matt. 10 and its parallels are drawing some sort of analogy or contrast. Certainly elsewhere the Synoptics draw analogies between the history of Jesus and the history of the exodus.” (Dale C. Allison Jr., Studies in Matthew, pp. 120-121)

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As we sing at Pascha, the new Passover of Christ takes us not from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, but from death to life and from earth to heaven. We are the new sojourners, God’s people sojourning toward God’s kingdom.  Fasting reminds us that this world, no matter how much we love it, is not our permanent home, nor our final destination.

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