Scripture: Lectionary 30. 3rd Sun. of Lent C., March 3. Exodus 3:1-8.13-15. Psalm 103: 1-2,3-4,6-7,8.11. I Corinthians 10: 1-6, 10-12. Luke 13:1-9
Moses has the greatest experience of his life on Mount Horeb. The angel of God (another way of speaking also of God as we see in the narrative) appears in a burning bush that is not consumed. Moses is told to be aware that this is a sacred place so he removes his sandals. He dialogues with God as a friend and God instead of giving him a name describes who God is for Moses and for the Israelites who will be redeemed from slavery through God’s commissioning Moses to lead them out of Egypt. The holy name is described asYahweh which means I AM WHO I AM and other nuances that make us think about God’s sacred presence. The expression most likely comes from the verb to be, to exist, to cause to exist. It is called the sacred Tetragrammaton.
The word for “bush” in Hebrew is s’neh and may be the root for Sinai. Horeb is a larger area of dry or desolate area. The word occurs only here and in Deuteronomy 33:16 where God is named Presence in the bush. The botanical name given to this bush is Rubus sanctus, a thorny desert plant.
A Jewish Commentary has these important questions for those who read or listen to this story: “How long must one watch a burning bush before realizing that it is not being consumed by the flames? How many miracles might be happening around us but we, in our haste, never stop to notice them?”
God’s presence is most important in this theophany that Moses experiences and God’s presence in our lives . This is a call that will help us not only in our prayer life (our relationship with God) but also in our responsibilities to others (our relationship to others). To live in the presence of God is offered to us in the lives of the many saints in the history of salvation and the history of the Church. They lived intensely because they lived in the presence of God continually not sporadically.
The name Yahweh is so sacred that is not pronounced. Even our liturgical songs have avoided using this holy name of God. I found this paragraph especially significant from the Jewish Commentary: “It is significant that this name of God is not a noun but a verb. The essence of Jewish theology is not the nature of God (“what God is”) but the actions of God (“what God does,” the difference that God makes in our lives). What then, does God’s name mean? It may mean any or all of the following: God exists. God is more than we can comprehend. God, or our understanding of God, is constantly growing. God is present in our lives. God is with us in our efforts to do what is right but difficult.”
Paul uses much of the Exodus story to help the Corinthians to understand how God is present in the history of their salvation. Moses and the events of the Exodus are types that help us understand how we are to follow the story of God’s presence in our lives not just those who encountered God in the Bible. Paul points out how the passing through the waters of the Reed Sea is likened to our Baptism; the presence of Christ as a Rock who leads us in our journey is part of the mystery of the Eucharist. These events help us to understand our own lives so much better through the prefiguring and the reality of their salvific effect in the Old Testament to a carry over into the New Testament through Paul’s retelling the story with a Christian follow through in the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus warns us not to be complacent. We are to learn from the tragedies that we see around us or read about each day in the newspaper. Our faith needs to deepen as we think about the chaos in our world so that we may adapt our own efforts to the signs of the times in our day. This Lent helps us to set aside time to pray, ponder over, and meditate upon how God is working within our lives. Each year we have this opportune time to bear much more fruit and thus avoid being cut down. God is giving us another year to see if we cultivate the soil and deepen the seeds of our faith so that growth continues. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.