“Yet the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.”

Today’s first reading begins our working through the Book of Exodus (1:8-14, 22).  Some time after Joseph’s death, which was recorded in the last verse of Genesis, a pharaoh comes to power who opposes the multitudes of Israelites now in Egypt.  He is concerned that some day they will side with Egypt’s enemies and turn against him.  Pharaoh puts them into forced labor and eventually into abject slavery.  Because they continued to multiply despite the oppression he ordered all Israelite boys born to be killed.

It struck me as it hasn’t before that this situation is closely analogous to early Christianity in the Roman Empire.  The faith starts out small in a foreign territory, grows rapidly, is perceived as a threat by the government, sees harsh oppression (including much killing — the firstborn into the Kingdom), yet the number of the faithful grows exponentially despite the best efforts of the leaders to suppress the people of God.

When God blesses a people and takes them under His wing, no earthly or demonic force will overcome it, rather the opposite happens (“the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” — Mt 16:18).  So, in the difficult times in which we live, when the world seems upside down, and good is called evil and evil is called good, let us remain confident in the Lord, the only one we can be sure will never let us down.

We know what Jesus asks of us.  And we know how the Book ends.  Now let’s live our lives like we believe it.

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