Today’s reading from the Book of Deuteronomy brings us to the end of the Torah, or as it is known in Greek, the Pentateuch. We read of the death of Moses.
This Scripture passage is filled with emotions. First we hear that Moses was granted the privilege of seeing what he could not experience himself, the Promised Land. The Lord shows him the land that had been promised to Abraham back in the book of Genesis. The emotion that the writer evokes in this passage is pathos, pity for Moses who has devoted almost his entire life to the moment when the children of Israel would be able to set foot in the Promised Land.
We are also moved by the tragedy which unfolds on Mt. Nebo. Moses dies and is buried in an unmarked grave.
At the same time, we also marvel at the magnificence of the moment as we realize that Moses has accomplished what God has asked him to do. It is fitting that he should die and be buried on Mt. Nebo with the rest of his generation that has perished in the desert. Moses has remained with his people.
Moses is both victim and hero. He is the victim of the sins of the children of Israel. He is also the hero that is to this day regarded as the greatest prophet of the Jewish faith. His life and his death are a proleptic look at the life and death of Jesus who is also a victim and a hero. Just as Moses died for the sins of Israel, Jesus died for our sins. Just as Moses was the hero that led the Israelites to the Promised Land, Jesus is our hero who makes it possible for us to enter the Promised Land of heaven.
As we celebrate the Eucharist this morning, we give praise for God’s plan of salvation. God has from the beginning of time been preparing the world for Jesus. As we receive him the morning, we embrace him as the victim and the hero of our faith.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator