July 30, 2019 – Tuesday 17th Week in Ordinary time
From the Book of Exodus (33:7-11;34:5b-9,29)
The tent, which was called the meeting tent,
Moses used to pitch at some distance away, outside the camp.
Anyone who wished to consult the LORD
would go to this meeting tent outside the camp.
Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise
and stand at the entrance of their own tents,
watching Moses until he entered the tent.
As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down
and stand at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses.
On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent,
all the people would rise and worship
at the entrance of their own tents.
The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face,
as one man speaks to another.
Moses would then return to the camp,
but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun,
would not move out of the tent.
Moses stood there with the LORD and proclaimed his name, “LORD.”
Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,
“The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity,
continuing his kindness for a thousand generations,
and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin;
yet not declaring the guilty guiltless,
but punishing children and grandchildren
to the third and fourth generation for their fathers’ wickedness!”
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O LORD,
do come along in our company.
This is indeed a stiff-necked people;
yet pardon our wickedness and sins,
and receive us as your own.”
So Moses stayed there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights,
without eating any food or drinking any water,
and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant,
the ten commandments.
From the Gospel of Matthew (13:36-43)
Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the Evil One,
and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his Kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
The first reading from the Book of Exodus tells us about this wonderful encounter of Moses with God. After that disturbing worship of the golden calf, the Lord did not withdrew His presence from the people. Rather, the Lord continued to accompany His people. Indeed, God is faithful.
The image of this meeting place of Moses captures that affection of God towards his people represented by Moses. The tent where the Lord reveals Himself was the sacred space for Moses to meet God and be overwhelmed by His joyful presence. This is described in Book of Exodus that the Lord spoke to Moses “face to face.” What Moses really experienced was joy in the presence of the Lord because what he proclaimed to the people was not punishment and damnation. Moses delivered to the people how merciful, slow to anger and kind the Lord is.
However, we may also wonder why this experience was only limited to Moses. Why did God did not also reveal himself to the people? Aside from the reason that Moses was chosen by the Lord at the very the beginning, there was something more in the person of Moses that he was able to encounter the Lord closely and intimately. Moses was more familiar to God’s voice. Moses had developed a deeper relationship with God. Moses can even argue and exchange words with God. Certainly, the heart of Moses was pure, without malice, untainted by guilt and fear but only affection towards the Lord.
Nevertheless, the people, because of their grave sin towards God were filled with guilt and fear. They can make their own tents and meeting place also with God but then that guilt and fear would prevent them to stand before God as they are. Undeniably, it is very difficult to stand before God as we are, to be honest and truthful about ourselves, to be bare and showing our vulnerability before the Lord. But Moses can do it with God.
This makes the difference between Moses and the people. Yet, Moses himself did not pass his own judgment towards the people. He did not condemn them for what they did. Moses remained a faithful intercessor and mediator between the Lord and the people.
This is what we have heard also from the Gospel today. Jesus taught his disciples not to pass quick judgments over other people particularly those who have sinned. It is the Lord who will judge us at the proper time. Jesus wanted his disciples to develop a sense of hope towards everybody because God gives many chances to us.
This is what Moses also proclaimed to the people. Although God punishes the guilty “from his children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation, but then, God’s kindness and fidelity continues for a thousand generations and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin.” This is also reechoed in our Psalm today, “The Lord is kind and merciful.”
This tell us now of this God who sees hope in us. We might find ourselves hopeless because of the sins that we have committed or because of the failures we have in life, but then, God sees more in us.
This is what Moses surely had seen as well, not just for the people but also for himself. That is where he found his redemption because God believed first in him and on what he can do for others.
Each of us also today is invited to learn from Moses. God has surely seen more in us as his kindness and fidelity surpasses from our failures and sins. Thus, each of us also is invited to meet the Lord in our own tents where we can be with the Lord, presenting our true self without any pretensions and masks, without fear and guilt, but rather, with affection and familiarity with God’s voice. Let us find that sacred space where we can meet the Lord and encounter him and be filled with his joy. This sacred space is not necessarily be limited with physical location or area but also a space where we can be comfortable with who we really are. This space is in fact can also be a state of mind, an attitude towards God’s presence.
Hopefully, in meeting and encountering God, we may also find and be able to affirm how we are loved by this God, not just us particularly, but also, everyone. And may this realization will change the way we look at and relate with other people no matter who they are. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR