Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Reading Exodus 1:8-14,22
Gospel Matthew 10:34—11:1

“The Egyptians, then, dreaded the children of Israel and reduced them to cruel slavery….”

Today we begin at weekday Mass to hear from the Book of Exodus. We’ll continue to hear from this book for about three weeks. Today’s passage from Exodus is from its first chapter. Moses does not appear. What we hear today forms the backdrop for his entrance.

The “whole cruel fate of slaves” is described at length. While we in our modern day might consider the description of the Israelites’ slavery very sad, it seems at a remove from our culture of affluence and independence. At least, this might seem so until we take this historical description and apply it to the Christian spiritual life. By doing this, we can see what Exodus tells us here as an illumination of the slavery to which sin subjects the sinner.

In order to ensure the success of his regime of slavery, the Pharaoh at the end of today’s passage issues a command. Every boy born to the Hebrews is to be thrown into the river. This river historically foreshadows the Red Sea, in which the Egyptian power over the Israelites is destroyed. But the river spiritually foreshadows the waters of Baptism, in which

the power of sin over Christians is destroyed. In the light of this double foreshadowing, we begin to see how Moses himself foreshadows Jesus.