A reading from the book of Exodus 3:1-81, 13-15 Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro,
the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire
flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,
though on fire, was not consumed.
So Moses decided,
“I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
and see why the bush is not burned.”
When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,
God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
God said, “Come no nearer!
Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy ground.
I am the God of your fathers, “ he continued,
“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”
Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
But the LORD said,
“I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt
and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers,
so I know well what they are suffering.
Therefore I have come down to rescue them
from the hands of the Egyptians
and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land,
a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites
and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”
Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:
I AM sent me to you.”
God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.
“This is my name forever;
thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”
How mysterious the story of Moses and the burning bush is for me. As a man who fled Egypt out of fear that he would be caught defending a Jew and that he would be found out to be Jewish himself, Moses ran into the desert and tried to build a normal life for himself. He probably thought the rest of his days on earth would have been in Midian with his wife and flocks.
The reading today takes us to what would have been another ordinary day for Moses tending to his flock - until God intervened and changed his life and the course of history for the Jewish people.
God called him back to Egypt - the very place he had fled. God called him back to the identity he was trying to live without - his Jewishness.
The story is both beautiful and speaks profoundly of the tenderness of God. That He never forgets us or our identity as children who belong to Him. He seeks us out no matter how far we run, and sometimes cuts through our everyday monotony to remind us that He has called us to something greater than we had ever imagined for ourselves.
Moses was a man set apart for a specific mission for the good of his own people. The priest is a man set apart for a specific mission for the good of God’s people. His vocation is one of great daring and trust in the providence of God because it is very likely God asks of him to go places he never wanted to or imagined going.
May we remember the vocation of priests today and pray that God grants them the grace of a calling like that of Moses and the burning bush - to be on fire for the world and not consumed, to enter the depth of sacredness with true reverence so they may enter into our lives and guide our journey to God, our Promised Land.