THURSDAY, FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
(Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Doctor)
Reading 1: Ex 32: 7-14 Moses pleads with God who wants to punish the people for falling into idolatry, and the Lord relents.
Gospel: Jn 5: 31-47 John continues the confrontation between Jesus and his enemies who wish to destroy him. Jesus claims to be sent by God and calls on Moses to justify him.
MOSES: HERALD OF MERCY
Today’s first reading testifies to the sanctity of Moses. Moses’ journey began with his divine experience on Mount Horeb, when he encountered God in a burning bush and was told of his mission. Scripture records Moses hesitancy in accepting the mission. This was understandable, considering that God was asking him to go back to Egypt and confront Pharaoh, the very person from whom he had run away. But there was one more reason. His own people had rejected him. For, had not the two quarrelling Hebrews between whom he had tried to broker peace, turned on him instead? Apart from doubts that they would accept him as their leader and spokesman, he might also have been disgusted with them. Why should he now leave the tranquil life of a shepherd and a family man to go back to that life again?
True enough, the Hebrews weren’t very accepting of him as their leader, and throughout the exodus journey they grumbled against and criticized him. Numerous times a frustrated Moses begs the Lord to relieve him from this burden. This is the Moses that we find in the passage today, as he converses with God on Mount Sinai. God, seeing that the people had already turned away from him to idolatry and immorality in Moses’ absence, tells him that, fed up with their unfaithfulness, he plans to destroy them and instead make a great nation out of Moses’ progeny.
This is the moment when Moses’ sanctity shines forth. Neither does he pause to consider God’s promise to him, nor proceeds to see for himself the extent of the people’s sinfulness. Nor does he let his terrible experience with them taint his compassion. Without hesitation, he falls to the ground pleading on their behalf, begging God to have mercy on them. And God listens. We may admire Moses for his heroic selflessness today, but will we allow ourselves to be inspired enough to imitate him?
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 106:19-23 O Lord, remember us with the favour you show to your people.
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