Moses was looking after the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law priest of Midian. He led his flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the shape of a flame of fire, coming from the middle of a bush. Moses looked; there was the bush blazing but it was not being burnt up. ‘I must go and look at this strange sight,’ Moses said, ‘and see why the bush is not burnt.’ Now the Lord saw him go forward to look, and God called to him from the middle of the bush. ‘Moses, Moses!’ he said. ‘Here I am,’ Moses answered. ‘Come no nearer,’ he said. ‘Take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your fathers,’ he said, ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this Moses covered his face, afraid to look at God.
And the Lord said, ‘I have seen the miserable state of my people in Egypt. I have heard their appeal to be free of their slave-drivers. Yes, I am well aware of their sufferings. I mean to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and bring them up out of that land to a land rich and broad, a land where milk and honey flow, the home of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites.’
Then Moses said to God, ‘I am to go, then, to the sons of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” But if they ask me what his name is, what am I to tell them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I Am who I Am. This’ he added ‘is what you must say to the sons of Israel: “I Am has sent me to you.”’ And God also said to Moses, ‘You are to say to the sons of Israel: “The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come.’
First Reading for the 3rd Sunday of Lent
The Lord manifests himself to Moses in a bush transfigured by divine presence. The reality of the manifestation is confirmed by the fruit born of the encounter at the bush – by the Lord’s faithful service of his people, and by the one who is to be leader to the people.
What is promised is liberation from slavery, from exile. The same liberation is needed by so many in our day too – people whose lives are exploited and constrained by so many economic and political, even religious, forces and powers in this world. The Lord seeks for us to be free from these malign and destructive forces that are exterior to ourselves.
He also seeks to free us from the malign and destructive forces that make their home within us. They may have their ultimate source elsewhere, or be the result of our own free choices. But the Lord, in his love for us, sets himself again this sin, this evil, also so that we might be free to be more fully ourselves, and more fully his people.
Fig tree, Medjugorje. (c) 2014, Allen Morris