Ex 33:7-11; 34:5-9, 28
Moses used to take the Tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the camp. He called it the Tent of Meeting. Anyone who wanted to consult Yahweh would go out to the Tent of Meeting, outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the Tent, the people would all stand up and every man would stand at the door of his tent and watch Moses until he went into the Tent. And whenever Moses went into the Tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and station itself at the entrance to the Tent, while Yahweh spoke with Moses. The people could all see the pillar of cloud stationed at the entrance to the Tent and the people would all stand up and bow low, each at the door of his tent. Yahweh would talk to Moses face to face, as a man talks to his friend, and afterwards he would come back to the camp, but the young man who was his servant, Joshua son of Nun, never left the inside of the Tent.
And Yahweh descended in a cloud and stood with him there and pronounced the name Yahweh. Then Yahweh passed before him and called out, ‘Yahweh, Yahweh, God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in faithful love and constancy, maintaining his faithful love to thousands, forgiving fault, crime and sin, yet letting nothing go unchecked, and punishing the parent’s fault in the children and in the grandchildren to the third and fourth generation!’ Moses immediately bowed to the ground in worship, then he said, ‘If indeed I do enjoy your favour, please, my Lord, come with us, although they are an obstinate people; and forgive our faults and sins, and adopt us as your heritage.’
He stayed there with Yahweh for forty days and forty nights, eating and drinking nothing, and on the tablets he wrote the words of the covenant – the Ten Words.
“Yahweh, Yahweh, God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in faithful love and constancy”. Who among the faithful is not pleased to hear these words? What person who sincerely seeks God would not be touched by them? Does it not correspond to our innermost longing and desire? Or do we want a God who exercises His Almightiness mercilessly?
Certainly God is just, and the longing for justice is something that we, as human beings, carry within us, and it angers us when it is violated. The reality of having a God who is both just and merciful, who leads men to true freedom, who loves us as a Father, is the great joy and hope for us when we come to know Him.
When we meet God, every longing for the good that we carry in our souls becomes reality. Moreover, God awakens in us the longing for holiness, to become people who do not succumb to their passions and simply follow their personal desires, but who want to serve this loving God with all their heart.
The Israelites were aware of God’s holiness, worthy of all worship. That is why, when they saw the pillar of cloud at the entrance to Moses’ tent, they all rose and prostrated themselves at the entrance to their tents. This same holiness of God causes us Catholics to kneel before His presence in the Blessed Sacrament and receive the Body of the Lord with the utmost reverence and love. God’s holiness also calls us to outward gestures of devotion and adoration, through which we express how worthy of worship He is. We bow our knees only to the One who deserves all honour and praise (cf. Rev 5:13b-14). On the other hand, we do not bow our knees to idols of any kind.
But the picture of God would still be incomplete if we were to consider only the reverence with which we are to meet Him, however important this may be. God’s love for us and our response to it also gives rise to great closeness and trust. Today’s reading describes it in these terms, “Yahweh would talk to Moses face to face, as a man talks to his friend”.
Moses’ words to Him also reflect this closeness, which goes hand in hand with reverence: “If indeed I do enjoy your favour, please, my Lord, come with us, although they are an obstinate people; and forgive our faults and sins, and adopt us as your heritage.”
God has sealed a covenant of love with His people and, through the coming of Jesus, extended it to all nations as the New Covenant (cf. Mt 26:28). Already in the Old Covenant God’s tender fatherly love is manifested; and it becomes even more tangible for us in the Incarnation of the Son of God. Adoration and reverence, trust and closeness go hand in hand to cultivate this wonderful relationship of love with God.
A small announcement before we conclude: From Thursday 29 July we will begin a series of meditations with which I will try to offer help on how to deepen the relationship with God the Father. Tomorrow’s meditation will be a preparation for this series. I cordially invite you to spread these upcoming meditations – which will also be uploaded on the YouTube channel “Elijerusalem english” (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-Ssrm4OV1S_Q9OFjP01log) – so that our relationship with God the Father can develop further. I would be very grateful if this were to happen, for the glorification of the Heavenly Father was and is the constant longing of Our Lord’s Heart.