Yesterday, Moses was a man on the run. He was running from Pharaoh and running from his own fellow Israelites. When we catch up with him today, much has happened in between. He is now married and has a son. He tends the flocks of his father-in-law beneath the Sinai heights. While tending the sheep, he sees a burning bush and climbs the heights of the mountain. There he is told that he is the presence of God. Like Jacob, his ancestor before him, he covers his face fearing for his own life after gazing on the presence of God.
God sends Moses on a mission. He is to be God’s spokesperson. He is to be the leader of his own people. He feels inadequate, but God assures Moses that he will not be alone. God will be with him. God also tells Moses that he must lead the people to Mt. Sinai where they will worship God and Moses will once again find himself in God’s presence.
In response to this reading, we pray verses from Psalm 103 which recall the attributes of God as they are expressed in the covenant of Mt. Sinai. God is kind and merciful. God forgives. God is compassionate. God secures justice for the oppressed and rescues those who are downtrodden.
We all long to see God face to face one day. The spiritual writers wax poetic in describing the Beatific Vision, forgetting that Scripture tells us that the human mind cannot possibly comprehend what God has in store for those who have fallen in love with God. The image provided for us today is that of the burning bush, an intense fire that does not consume the bush but which radiates God’s beautiful countenance.
Though we are still longing for the day that we see God face to face, we have come to believe that we see the face of God in every other man and woman who crosses our path. The stories of the saints are filled with examples of visitations that mystify and confound. The story of Francis and the leper is one such visitation.
We also see God in the bread and wine which are consecrated for us today and given to us as food and drink. God is in our midst. As with Moses, God is always with us.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator