Covid and Exodus – a journey home

The author uses the biblical Exodus as a key to unlock the potential for theological reflections about the implications of Covid-19. M. C. Benitan works as a spiritual director and supervisor.

The pattern of a journey 
For the Israelites, their long Exodus was a way home. Their meandering in the desert, before they reached their ‘new normal’ in the Promised Land, was tough but valuable. They learnt a lot about themselves in times of danger and uncertainty, and they became the people of God in the process of walking. Perhaps this paradigm of a journey through the wilderness may give us some biblical material for reflection, which could then help us find our theological bearings in the current time of Covid-related confusion and adjustment.

The Passover meal and the sacred sign
On a practical level, it was a meal that initiated the liberation of abused Hebrew clans from their enslavement in Egypt. Perhaps originally a component of an earlier, pastoral festival, the Passover meal suddenly fed the newly arising people with unexpected urgency. 

This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord.
(Exod. 12.11, NRSVCE)

This meal marked the end of the Israelites’ life of relative stability. The shift in the meaning of the celebration required new instructions to make sure everyone was on the same page. And that everyone stayed indoors for that one long night when the angel was passing by.

The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
(Exod. 12.13, NRSVCE)

The novel sign smeared over the entrances to the Hebrew dwelling places was a sacred mark for the people. It indicated households that were aware of the dangers of the night. And it revealed families in tune with each other through their shared adherence to the same symbols, rituals and practices of faith. The outward sign smeared over the lintels and the doorposts was also expressive of an inner attitude of openness and willingness to go beyond the ‘usual’. It also expressed their ethnic solidarity with one another.

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