The sons of Israel left Rameses for Succoth, about six hundred thousand on the march – all men – not counting their families. People of various sorts joined them in great numbers; there were flocks, too, and herds in immense droves. They baked cakes with the dough which they had brought from Egypt, unleavened because the dough was not leavened; they had been driven out of Egypt, with no time for dallying, and had not provided themselves with food for the journey. The time that the sons of Israel had spent in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And on the very day the four hundred and thirty years ended, all the array of the Lord left the land of Egypt. The night, when the Lord kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, must be kept as a vigil in honor of the Lord for all their generations.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘This is what is ordained for the Passover: No alien may take part in it, but any slave bought for money may take part when you have had him circumcised. No stranger and no hired servant may take part in it. It is to be eaten in one house alone, out of which not a single morsel of the flesh is to be taken; nor must you break any bone of it. The whole community of Israel must keep the Passover. Should a stranger be staying with you and wish to celebrate the Passover in honour of the Lord, all the males of his household must be circumcised: he may then be admitted to the celebration, for he becomes as it were a native-born. But no uncircumcised person may take part. The same law will run for the native and for the stranger resident among you.
‘When the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanites – as he swore to you and your fathers he would do – and gives it to you, you are to make over to the Lord all that first issues from the womb, and every first-born cast by your animals: these males belong to the Lord. But every first-born donkey you will redeem with an animal from your flocks. If you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. Of your sons, every first-born of men must be redeemed. And when your son asks you in days to come, “What does this mean?” you will tell him, “By sheer power the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the first-born in the land of Egypt, of man and of beast alike. For this I sacrifice to the Lord every male that first issues from the womb, and redeem every first-born of my sons.” The rite will serve as a sign on your hand would serve, or a circlet on your forehead, for the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.’
|From the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world of the Second Vatican Council|
|Man's deeper questionings|
The world of today reveals itself as at once powerful and weak, capable of achieving the best or the worst. There lies open before it the way to freedom or slavery, progress or regression, brotherhood or hatred. In addition, man is becoming aware that it is for himself to give the right direction to forces that he himself has awakened, forces that can be his master or his servant. He therefore puts questions to himself.
The tensions disturbing the world of today are in fact related to a more fundamental tension rooted in the human heart. In man himself many elements are in conflict with each other. On one side, he has experience of his many limitations as a creature. On the other, he knows that there is no limit to his aspirations, and that he is called to a higher kind of life.
Many things compete for his attention, but he is always compelled to make a choice among them. and to renounce some. What is more, in his weakness and sinfulness he often does what he does not want to do, and fails to do what he would like to do. In consequence, he suffers from a conflict within himself, and this in turn gives rise to so many great tensions in society.
Very many people, infected as they are with a materialistic way of life, cannot see this dramatic state of affairs in all its clarity, or at least are prevented from giving thought to it because of the unhappiness that they themselves experience.
Many think that they can find peace in the different philosophies that are proposed.
Some look for complete and genuine liberation for man from man’s efforts alone. They are convinced that the coming kingdom of man on earth will satisfy all the desires of his heart.
There are those who despair of finding any meaning in life: they commend the boldness of those who deny all significance to human existence in itself, and seek to impose a total meaning on it only from within themselves.
But in the face of the way the world is developing today, there is an ever increasing number of people who are asking the most fundamental questions or are seeing them with a keener awareness: What is man? What is the meaning of pain, of evil, of death, which still persist in spite of such great progress? What is the use of those successes, achieved at such a cost? What can man contribute to society, what can he expect from society? What will come after this life on earth?
The Church believes that Christ died and rose for all, and can give man light and strength through his Spirit to fulfill his highest calling; his is the only name under heaven in which men can be saved.
So too the Church believes that the center and goal of all human history is found in her Lord and Master.
The Church also affirms that underlying all changes there are many things that do not change; they have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever.