I am who I am
Third Sunday of Lent
Moses had fled into the wilderness. When he was a prince in Egypt he had murdered a man who was mistreating one of the Hebrew slaves. Governed by his rage he had tried to solve the situation, but made things much worse. He was now a shepherd looking after sheep, having much time for personal reflection. Now God comes to him.
He sees a bush blazing but not burning up. He is fascinated. His mind is perplexed. He must solve this problem. As he nears the bush he hears the voice of God calling his name: Moses, Moses! “Here I am” he replies. He is no longer in control. He is told to come no nearer , but to take off his shoes, because he is on holy ground. To take off his shoes is a sign of surrender.
In the presence of God, he must let go of his propensity to keep everything under his control. He is now overwhelmed by the presence of God. The voice tells him “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. Moses “covered his face”, afraid that the sight of the living God may strike him dead. He is over-awed by the revelation. Notice that Moses, who in earlier life was self-sufficient, self-governing, self-reliant, which led him into big trouble, is now docile to God, surrendered of heart, responsive to God’s word. Things have changed. Now God can use him.
The Lord reveals to Moses his purpose to save his people from their slavery. And he wants Moses to be their leader. He is to go to the people of Israel in slavery in Egypt and tell them “the God of our fathers has sent me”. Moses replies, “if they ask me what his name is, what will I tell them?” The Lord replies, “I am who I am”. This is not a philosophical definition. Rather, it means, “I am who is with you”.
He is the God of Abraham , Isaac and Jacob, who acts in history to bring salvation to his people. Moses has yet much to learn about the ways of God. But here before the burning bush he encounters the compassionate heart of God for his people. He yields to the Lord’s ways rather than continue to seek to solve the problems of his people by his own strength and insight. He realises in a new way that God is with him, and God’s purpose is to use him to free his people.
Questions for group
- Can you remember ever having a “burning bush” experience? Maybe not as dramatic as Moses, but a time when you knew God was really present, a “God moment”. If you feel free, share with the group.
- Can you identify with Moses’ tendency to want to be in control and keep everything predictable and managed? What is your level of being able to let go of things and let God have his way?
- When you think of God what sort of image do you have? Is he a tyrant, a bully, a commander, a policeman, a disinterested observer, a remote absent figure, a benign boss or whatever? Or do you know him as tender-hearted, merciful, and loving? What would you say are the true qualities in God and how do you experience them?
- In your own personal journey with God would you say it is deepening, or is it a bit stagnant, or is it distant, or is it really intimate, or is it something you just take for granted, or whatever? Maybe share with one another your own experience of God or lack of experience, for the sake of gaining more awareness of what is happening in your journey.
Fr Ken Barker
1st Reading: Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9