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

The first reading at Mass yesterday begins a multi-week reflection upon the Book of Exodus, in which we read about the oppression of the Israelites under the yoke of Pharaoh’s slavery and the rise of Moses, chosen by God, to free His People by their journey through the desert and the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. It is a sacred narrative that celebrates the fidelity of God’s love for His People, despite their sinfulness and betrayal of the Covenant.

As I proclaimed the reading at Mass, there was one line that struck me deeply, in part because it immediately called to mind the situation that we now face as a Church. It gave me both hope and a reminder of what you and will may be asked to endure in the months and years ahead.

In response to Pharaoh’s order to oppress the Israelites with ever more severe work in order to stop their multiplication, the text says something encouraging about the Israelites. “Yet the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.” In many ways, this line gives me great hope for the Church, since we are facing opposition to our faith both because of the growing secularism of our culture and also because of the grave sinfulness of some of our members. Despite this growing opposition, there are increasing numbers of Catholics of all ages who have been reinvigorated and committed to teach the truth and faithfully live the Gospel.

The truth is that throughout history, every time the world wanted to oppress the Church, the more its members have been reborn and renewed. This age will be no different. In our own time, Pharaoh will need to re-learn the lesson.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos.