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  • Stacey Jackson

Sometimes You Gotta Kill a Sheep

I hope you're having a wonderful Holy Week! I heard a wonderful talk earlier this week that shed light on the context of the first reading at mass tonight. It was God's really weird command to the Israelites before escaping the slavery of Egypt to kill a lamb, paint the doorway with its blood, eat it in their traveling clothes, and get out immediately. I had never understood why in the world God would command those seemingly ridiculous things. Anyone else with me?

Well, it turns out, as was explained to me in the talk, that the Egyptians considered lambs sacred. to kill a lamb was to incriminate yourself. In commanding the reluctant Israelites to kill a lamb, He was ensuring that they in fact WOULD leave Egypt. (If you remember the Old Testament, those Israelites had a hankering to go back to Egypt for years. They couldn't seem to believe that they deserved better than slavery, and often wanted to choose the relative comfort of where they were than to leave.) By painting the lamb's blood on the door, God was ensuring that the Egyptians would also know exactly who killed the lambs. They would have no choice but to leave or be killed.

How does this relate to us theologically? Well, when we are in sin we can become so addicted to it that we can't motivate ourselves to get out. I was addicted to having a perfect body and allowing that to dictate my decisions. I was so embroiled in a dependency to living up to everything that the world told me I should be, that I was enslaved. It colored all my decisions and obscured my judgement of what was really important. I didn't know how to get myself out of it.

Sometimes God will ask us to take extreme measures to make sure we can't go back. It saves our reluctant hearts from a whole lot of wishy-washing back and forth. I reflected on all this and began to realize that sometimes the things I count as losses were in fact God taking away temptations he knew I was too weak to resist. And I am so grateful for it! My "killing the lamb' was, surprisingly, being on National Tour as an actress performing in "The Wizard of Oz." For months we traveled across the US in a bus, and if you've ever driven through the Midwest you know that in some places there are literally nothing but rest stops and a few restaurants. All these places where I had disdained to eat before were suddenly my only option for days. I was stuck on a bus most days from early in the morning until just before the show, thereby not allowing me to exercise for 2 hours the way I would if my time were my own.

Are there any areas in your life that require you to kill the figurative lamb and paint your door with its blood to get the sin away? Or maybe let God do it for you without complaining?

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