Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, "Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land." Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labour. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live."
Today is Monday the 15 July, in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time.
The community of Taizé sing, Nada te turbe: “Let nothing trouble you or make you afraid. Those who have God will lack nothing. God alone in enough.”
Today’s reading is from the Book of Exodus.
Today’s reading takes us into the difficult world of fear. It puts before us a cycle of dread and oppression... which has the most extreme consequences. There is an invitation here – to look at how fear operates in my life so that maybe I can unmask and defuse it. But first let your mind conjure up an imaginative portrait of those Egyptians.
See them as they go about their daily lives – notice how they come across the Israelites … Listen to them express their fear that they are about to be swamped in their own country... watch how hostility is born and grows…
The story gives us lots of detail about how Egyptian attitudes were hardened – and even manipulated. As you listen again, keep your ears open for some of the contributing factors which can turn fear into cruel oppression. You might start to notice echoes from your own life experience…
This has been a challenging reading to start the week. Maybe it has thrown up memories or reflections which leave you feeling raw. Take a moment to talk them through with the Lord, trusting in His infinite mercy and love.