The Bible interprets the name ‘Moses’ as meaning ‘He who was drawn out of the water’ (Ex 2:10). In contrast to the meanings ascribed to other names in the bible, this one has no connection with the part played by its bearer in the theology of salvation, for the active sense of ‘drawer’ or ‘leader out’ is not supported by the biblical evidence. 3
“You have come to Jesus, mediator of the new covenant. ”
The Second Readings this week see Moses as a transfiguring figure -like the Old Testament portrayal of him as the person he actually developed into, a prophet and man of God.1 Encountering God, changed him. While encounter of Jesus, opens his disciples to the realm of paradise.2 The various references to both this week may provide an accurate picture to the many questions posed in the Second Readings of last week: from Gregory Nazianzen’s litany-like query contrast of God’s grandeur and human humbleness through to the fundamental human questions outlined in the excerpt from the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world of the Second Vatican Council.
Sunday’s first mention of Moses in the context of Jesus’ transfiguration, perhaps hints at transformation through law to freedom. Monday, explicitly links Christ and Moses –Moses prefiguring the incarnate Word. Tuesday, in the body of Christ, the “old nature” (weak and seemingly abandoned in the desert of desolation) destroyed in the oblation of the acceptable sacrifice unites all human prayer as Christ’s -a penultimate fragrance which sets up Wednesday’s description of Moses’ foreshadowing portrait of learning reverence and perseverance though Christ already “had within himself every fragrance which is pleasing” even before Moses existed. Thursday invites readers to understand such learning (necessarily taught) as fear “not to be taken in the common sense” as trepidation and anxiety about any evil –guilt, sickness, power, etc. (“This kind of fear is not taught …objects of fear bring their own terror…”). Fear consisting wholly of love is the new covenant arising from the
commandments given by Moses as training and preparation (Friday) culminating with Saturday’s fleeing death to rest in “God our refuge” –the week’s movement through Moses to Christ to all who our taken from the waters of resurrection rescue into paradisal realms.
What are you so afraid that you cannot be taken out of its bondage
and enter the learning and training questions of Lent which promise freedom –the living transfiguration of fear as encounter of God in baptismal grace?
1 Sacramentum Verbi, An Encyclopedia of Biblical Theology, Johannes B. Bauer, ed., Othmar Schilling p. 593; 1970 , Herder and Herder
2 Saving Paradise, How Christianity Traded Love of this World for Crucifixion and Empire, Rita Brook and Rebecca Parker, p. 154; 2008, Beacon Press
3 Ibid, Othmar Schilling p. 594.