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Preface I of the Sundays in Ordinary Time
For more information on the Preface in general, see The Eucharistic Prayer (2) and The Eucharistic Prayer (3)
There are four liturgical seasons—Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter—but there are also thirty‑four weeks in Ordinary Time. Salvation history has some intense moments, represented by the liturgical seasons, but it is also one continuous flow of the wonders of the Lord, culminating in Christ. In the prefaces for Ordinary Time we recall some of those wonders.
The Paschal Mystery and the People of God
We all know the People of God didn’t start with the Church. There’s salvation history behind it well before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The prophets of the Old Testament foretold that a faithful remnant of the People of Israel, the original People of God, would be the start and germination of the People of God of which all believers in Christ now form a part through faith and baptism.
“For through his Paschal Mystery, he accomplished the marvelous deed, by which he has freed us from the yoke of sin and death, summoning us to the glory of being now called a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for your own possession, to proclaim everywhere your mighty works, for you have called us out of darkness into your own wonderful light.”
For the Israelites, the Passover, commemorated by sacrificing the Paschal lamb, was not only for their liberation from slavery in Egypt, but from the plague of death that the first born of Egypt suffered due to their Pharaoh’s obstinacy. That plague was the last straw for the Egyptians; as the Lord foretold, they practically drove the Israelites out after that. The Israelites then went into the desert, and as they crossed the miraculously receding waters of the Red Sea they were saved one last time by the destruction of the Egyptians. Making their way to Mt. Sinai, the Lord established a lasting covenant with them through a blood sacrifice, constituting them as his People, the People of God.
Despite all this, the people soon fell into idolatry and worshipped a golden calf. They were God’s People, but they were a weak people, and Moses interceded for them countless times, sparing them from the Lord’s wrath a they stumble, grumbled, and complained. Even then the Lord was preparing them to receive something more in order to be faithful to the covenant and to him: his Son.
Our Lord chose to become our Paschal lamb. He sacrificed himself at Passover, and we were rescued from sin and death. Just as the Israelites had painted their doors with the blood of the Paschal lamb to ensure that the angel of death passed by, so we are spared from spiritual death by the blood of Christ. Through Christ we’re rescued from sin and death and are constituted as his People, the People of God, entering into a new covenant that he established through sacrificing himself to seal the covenant in his blood. Like Moses, Christ always intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father so that we receive the grace we need to remain holy.
As long as we are on pilgrimage toward the Promised Land (Heaven, in our case), the history of the People of God continues, our history. Let’s make every day of it as momentous as we can.
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