Daily Reflection
July 17th, 2007

Tom Shanahan, S.J.

University Relations and the Theology Department
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus chronicles an important step in God’s plan for saving His People. We are at the beginning of the book Exodus which continues the stories of the early men and women whose adventures we followed in the Book of Genesis. The Israelites had settled in Egypt and the story picks up after several generations in which the people had worked slavishly for the Pharaoh.

Today’s reading deals with the birth of Moses. Just before today’s reading, the King of Egypt had put out an order: that midwives were to kill the male children of the Hebrew women by throwing them into the Nile River. The midwives, however, clearly recognized the evil in this and refused to do so. And thus Moses is returned to his mother to be raised. When the baby Moses is three months old the mother sees that she can’t keep him for fear that he will be discovered and slain by the Egyptians. She constructs a little ark for Moses and sails him in the reeds of the river.

Pharaoh’s daughter discovers the child and gives him back to his real mother who continues to nurse him. After Moses was weaned his mother gave him back to Pharaoh’s daughter. Then, after Moses grows up and, amidst the oppression that the Israelites were enduring, he sees one of his Hebrew countryman being flogged by an Egyptian overseer; he responds by killing the straw boss. Pharaoh found out about this and sought to kill Moses in revenge. The King doesn’t find Moses and the fuller saga of Moses and how God dealt with him and the rest of the Hebrew people follows.

Lots of details in this story, but they all point to the reality of God’s love for His People and the ongoing relationship that he established for them. There are many and varied obstacles that we place in God's way as God continues to form his People and, through them, the rest of the world. That whole story which is referred to as Salvation History is certainly familiar to us. Our task is to see what this part of the story of God’s dealing with His People means for us today.

We, like the characters in the Hebrew Bible, also receive the love and presence of God in our lives. This can be quite difficult for us to imagine. “I can see that God might deal with Moses (and the other figures of the bible) because he and those others are integral for the story of the Hebrew Bible, but that he would deal with ME!?” Seems impossible because we feel that we don’t matter that much. However, that judgment/attitude is simply wrong because God doesn’t love partially (in the sense that he might love Moses (and other bigs from Salvation History) 100% but me, God will only love 38%. The truth is that God is God and when God loves, it is 100% whether God loves Moses or me.

We say with our minds that God loves us, but from another part of ourselves comes the denial and cutting back on that love. What a dilemma. Somehow, we just can’t let God be God; we’ve got to cut God down to size. Ultimately, the side of ourselves that won’t let God be God is our pride. Can I believe that God deals with (read love) Moses and me with the same love that God is capable of? It is an extreme test of trust.

Lord God, continue to badger me with your love even when I discount it and seem not to appreciate it for what it is: the most important part of my life. Be with me as I receive and draw me to gratitude for the WONDER of that love and to be led by it to serve others in your name.

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