We’d all at least scan a story carrying such a banner headline. But unlike some things you read on the Internet, this story is actually true!
Moses certainly does get a bum rap! Too many of us are stuck in the cosmic cinemagraphic effects of that righteous law-giver hoisting stone tablets overhead — all creation rumbles and every face turns askance when judged in the light of God’s “Thou Shalt Nots”!
I suppose this moralistic image fixed in childhood is perfectly understandable. As children our physical and emotional development takes time. Healthy maturation — personal, social and spiritual — depends heavily the security of clarity, rules and routine. Too often this is where we leave Moses — in a child’s collection of Bible Stories or Sunday school skits.
An image of God as cosmic meteorologist or grand regulator of minutia stunts mature faith development. It leaves us believing that the fans who pray the hardest will win the World Cup. It relegates God, whose self-revelation is Love itself, to one responsible for good weather on our wedding day. Sorry, but our well-being depends much more on sane gun regulation and the alcohol consumption of other drivers than it does on the policing of a law-enforcing deity.
Its time to grow-up! The God of Moses is indeed HOLY but perhaps not as we envision if we cling to the rules and images of Sunday School. The forty-year ordeal to which God subjected Moses and the Chosen People finally begins to make sense when we have ourselves wandered in search of life’s purpose for at least forty years!
Those who endure arrive at a place and time — and many of us need a great deal of remedial coursework — when what matters is not that we have broken God’s law. That’s now presumed. Like the mature Moses, any who would climb the Mountain of The Lord encounter fearsome challenges and consistently ask whether is all worth it. What really matters is whether we have broken faith with God!
After forty years of marriage one learns the relative unimportance of wedding day weather. The loss of one’s health, whether immediately life-threatening or not, puts the World Cup into perspective. Accompanying a loved one into Alzheimer’s rivals any Scriptural sojourn in the desert. Laws become no more than directional signals. What ultimately matters is “keeping faith” with God.
Scripture says Moses’ face shone when he descended Mt Sinai. Are we not drawn to the incomparable wisdom of those who have scaled the cloudy heights and traversed life’s darkness? Taking refuge in the security of numbers, we may huddle below curious about the luminous faces of those who have persevered. We can hide for what seems like a lifetime, afraid of making the climb ourselves.
If we remain faithful to our sojourn there comes a time we will not be able to resist, avoid or postpone. “Life” will drag us — willingly or not — into Holy Mystery. In that place we will be invited to learn what Moses labored to pass on. We will be given, not the obligations of Law, but the embrace of Covenant.
We give Moses a bum rap if we persist in believing uninspired depictions of one wielding stone tablets. These are fine for the story books of childhood. More and more, life directs us to the truly inspired headlines that reveal how his face shone!
…enticing us to follow if we dare!