Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Exodus of St. Peter

Something hit me this morning at Mass. I was listening to the first reading -- from Acts -- and here is what I heard described (Acts 12:1-8 [RSV]):
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword; and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, "Dress yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your mantle around you and follow me."
It occurred to me that the message given to Peter by the angel of the Lord was very similar to that given to Israel a few thousand years earlier (Exodus 12:8-11 [RSV]):
"They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. ... In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD's passover."
What providence! The Passover of the Lord was a foreshadowing of the Lord's Supper and the greatest paschal sacrifice in history... and the manner of the Exodus of the Passover was a foreshadowing of Peter's freedom from captivity!

(And they're both chapter 12.)

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