ORGAN OF THE ROMAN THEOLOGICAL FORUM
|Editor: Msgr. John F. McCarthy, J.C.D., S.T.D.||Distributed several times a year to interested members.|
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Living Tradition, Oblates of Wisdom, P.O. Box 13230, St. Louis, MO 63157, USA
|No. 32||Roman Theological Forum | Article Index | Study Program||November 1990|
by John F. McCarthy
Now, Moses fed the sheep of Jethro his father-in-law, a priest of Madian, and he drove the flock to the inner parts of the desert and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. And the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush and he saw that the bush was on fire and was not burnt. And Moses said, "I will go and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." And when the Lord saw that he went forward to see, he called to him out of the midst of the bush and said, "Moses! Moses!" And he answered, "Here I am." And he said, "Come not nigh hither. Put off the shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." And he said, "I am the God of thy Father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Moses hid his face for he durst not look at God. And the Lord said to him, "I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt and I have heard their cry, because of the rigor of them that are over the works. And knowing their sorrow, I am come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians, and to bring them out of that land into a good and spacious land, into a land that flows with milk and honey to the places of the Canaanite, the Hethite, the Amorhite, the Pherezite, the Hevite, and the Jebusite. For the cry of the children of Israel is come to me, and I have seen their affliction, wherewith they are oppressed by the Egyptians. But come, and I will send thee to Pharaoh that thou mayest bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt." And Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" And he said to him, "I will be with thee, and this thou shalt have for a sign that I have sent thee: When thou shalt have brought my people out of Egypt, thou shalt offer sacrifice to God upon this mountain." Moses said to God: "Lo, I shall go to the children of Israel and say to them: The God of your fathers hath sent me to you. If they should say to me, What is his name? What shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO AM." He said, "Thou shalt say to the children of Israel: He who is hath sent me to you." And God said again to Moses: "Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations."The understanding of this passage begins with the realization that the episode described by the inspired writer really took place. There was a bush seen by Moses that burned without being consumed; there was a voice heard by Moses that came from the bush. This was a miraculous occurrence intended to convey a spiritual message, and we ask ourselves what this message might be.
And Jesus, answering, said to them: Do you not therefore err, because you know not the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they shall rise again from the dead, they shall neither marry nor be married, but are as the angels in heaven. And as concerning the dead that they rise again, have you not read in the Book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke to him saying: I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living. You therefore do greatly err.In the Gospel according to St. Luke 20:37-38 (cf. Matt 22:29-32) we find:
Now, that the dead rise again, Moses also showed at the bush when he called the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, for He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to him.It's something added where Luke says, "For all live to him."
And Moses fled upon this word and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begot two sons. And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the desert of Mount Sinai, an angel in a flame of fire in a bush. And Moses seeing it wondered at the sight, and as he drew near to view it, the voice of the Lord came unto him saying: "I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses, being terrified, durst not behold. And the Lord said to him: "Loose the shoes from thy feet, for the place wherein thou standest is holy ground. Seeing, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning and am come down to deliver them. And now come, and I will send thee into Egypt." This Moses, whom they refused, saying: "Who hath appointed thee prince and judge?" him God sent to be prince and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.We find that an angel in a flame of fire was there in the bush and that it was, therefore, by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush, that he was sent to be prince and redeemer.
This article is adapted from a retreat conference given by Msgr. John F. McCarthy in Rome on November 2, 1990.