JULY 19, 2007- EXODUS 3: 11-20; MATTHEW 11:28-30
THIS IS WHAT YOU SHALL TELL THE ISRAELITES: "I AM SENT ME TO YOU." That God spoke to certain chosen men and appointed them to speak to others in his name is an ineradicable and fundamental belief of both Jews and Christians. The message revealed in this manner is a revelation concerning the nature of God himself or his purposes and will. The revelations provided in such communications, however, while leading to a higher form of life more worthy of God and of human dignity, are not without mystery. They do not always provide directives that are clear and understandable in every particular application. On the contrary, they commonly clarify one situation only to reveal a more profound mystery hidden in its implicate reality. This characteristic of prophecy and of Scripture taken as a whole is consistent with the content of its message. This content has to do with the living God and with the human race, made in his image and likeness. To speak of the name of the living God is to treat of a mystery enveloped in the greatest of mysteries.
Today’s first reading illustrate this feature of revelation. Moses at the burning bush encounters God himself; seeking to know his name he receives an answer that is at once a revelation and yet mysterious in its significance. Just what does it mean that God makes himself known as "I am"? There are different opinions on the name God assigns to himself, but by far the most widely accepted is that it identifies God as the One who truly IS; as the absolute Being. When St. Paul spoke to the Athenians he spoke of God as the one in whom "we live and move and have our being" as he
commented on a phrase written by Aratus, a Greek poet. (Acts 17:28). This insight means that we find ourselves always, in fact, engaged with the living God, though, like the Athenians, we may be unaware of his personal presence. Even though we believe in his existence we can remain unconscious of our existing within his enveloping and active presence.
This dimension of our existence, revealed to us in the New Testament quite explicitly, brings us to the great mystery that gives orientation and significance to our human life. The fact is that there is more to our world than what appears to our senses. We who live at this time of history are provided with very concrete evidence that points to this truth with a force of demonstration that was not available to earlier generations. For modern physics in its penetration to the sub-atomic level of the material cosmos has produced data that is best explained as indicating that the whole of this universe exists within an enveloping reality that is governed by laws in accessible to our instruments as well as our senses. This implicate world exerts a hidden influence on our world, the exact nature of which remains unknown but real, so that we best conceive of our cosmos as an explicate world, realized in its materiality in relation to this implicate reality within which we are embedded. This view of the created universe fits in admirably with St. Paul’s teaching that our existence is more weighty than appears on the surface for we are always in contact with God, whether or not we advert to it. For in him "we live and move and have our being."
Jesus brings us the same message by his Incarnation and makes it more concrete and specific by his teaching. We are given an instance in today’s Gospel text. Our Lord offers himself in his gentleness as one to be imitated by those who take up his easy yoke through faith and trust in him. This meekness and humility that he models for us is the expression of awareness that we are always dealing with God. Because he is the Father and Creator of all our human race we deal with his children when we treat with others, and we share in the same goal whether or not our fellow creatures realize it. Jesus implies that we are always in fact relating to him and through him to the Father. Though he is not seen, yet he is present in our world still. For in him "we live and move and have our being."
He makes this presence more concentrated and active here at this altar in the Eucharist we offer. May we so participate in it as to grow more aware that we belong to him because he has first given himself to us.†
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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