RADIATING THE PRESENCE OF GOD
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Ex 34:29-35; Ps 98:5-7,9; Mt 13:44-46 ]
In the first reading, we read how the skin on Moses’ face was so “radiant after speaking with the Lord”, so much so “that they would not venture near him.” Indeed, Moses must have been so transformed in likeness to God that the sons of Israel were unsure whether it was safe to approach Moses. In his radiance, the people could see the glory of God in Moses. Hence, in the presence of God, one is filled with awe and reverence.
Not only did Moses radiate the presence of God but he also brought the Word of God. We are told that when he came down from the mountain, he “had the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands” and “all the sons of Israel came closer, and he passed on to them all the orders that the Lord had given him on the mountain of Sinai.” This became the pattern of his relationship with God and his people. He became the mediator. Earlier on, Moses played the role of intercessor, asking God for pardon for the sins of his people. But beyond an intercessory role, Moses was the prophet that brought the Word of God to his people. “Whenever he went into the Lord’s presence to speak with him, Moses would remove the veil until he come out again. And when he came out, he would tell the sons of Israel what he had been ordered to pass on to them, and the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he returned to speak with the Lord.”
What was the secret of Moses in fulfilling his role as the mediator of God, radiating His presence and giving His word to the people? Clearly, it was because of Moses’ intimacy with the Lord. God spoke to “Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex 33:11) The Lord said to Moses, “I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.” (Ex 33:12) Indeed, it was because of Moses’ closeness with the Lord that he was able to share His heart and His mind. He was one with God in His love for the people. He felt for his people as God felt for them. Only a man who knows God can reveal His thoughts and His heart to the people. It was at the mountain that God spoke to Moses and revealed His thoughts in the commandments.
Indeed, this was said of Jesus as well. “No one has ever seen God; only the Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” (Jn 1:18) In His last testament, Jesus said, “O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me. I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (Jn 17:25f) Truly, Jesus Himself said “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Mt 11:27) Other than Moses, no one has seen God and known God as Jesus did.
The secret of Jesus’ intimacy with His Father was the same as that of Moses. He would spend time in prayer with His Father. After a long day’s ministry, He would retire in prayer. “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.” (Mt 14:23) “And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.” (Mk 1:35) And before important decisions, He would pray. “In these days he went out into the hills to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles.” (Lk 6:12f) Jesus knew that He must first receive the love from His Father and hear from Him before He could be transformed in love and be able to transmit all that He heard from His Father to us. Jesus was fully aware that He had come to reveal His love for us. All that He said and did were to reveal the Father’s love and mercy.
In this sense, Moses and the Lord shared the experience of finding the greatest treasure in life, which is intimacy with the Father. It is the love of the Father that kept them focused on their mission. Both parables of the hidden treasure and the fine pearls speak of this great discovery. If only we know the treasure we have, then we too would be elated. A person who finds such a treasure will have a radical transformation and make radical decisions. Moses left everything for God to deliver His people because He found the treasure at the Burning Bush. There Moses found God as the compassionate and merciful one. Jesus at His baptism also experienced the overwhelming love of His Father which was the beginning of His mission. If we want to commit ourselves to the service of God, we too must find the treasure of our life, which is to be with God, sharing in His love and in His life. This was the same experience of St Paul when he wrote, “For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Cor 4:6f)
Secondly, the parables of the hidden treasure and fine pearl tell us that when we find such a treasure, we must give up everything to buy it. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.” There is a price to be paid for what we desire. We must give all our heart to what we value in this life. If God is the greatest treasure in our lives, then we must not allow other things and people to take us away from Him. This is what Jesus said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 10:37-39) In other words, we must put Jesus at the center of our lives, and in all that we do or say, be guided by Him alone.
How then can we find this treasure in our lives today? How can we discover that God is the greatest treasure of our life? The gospel tells us that we can find this treasure in the ordinariness of our daily life. The lesson of the first parable tells us that he found it whilst working in the field. He discovered the treasure not so much by chance but because he was going on about his daily chores and duties. We, too, if we are diligent in carrying out our responsibilities well, we will meet God and find Him in our daily tasks. St Theresa of the Child Jesus reminds us that holiness is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. God is found in prayer and in silence but also as we fulfill the tasks He appoints for us to do each day, in our chores at home, in the office and in helping our brothers and sisters.
Secondly, we can find this treasure if we desire it. We must also search for it. Unlike in the first parable, the man in the second parable found the treasure by chance. He actively went in search of the fine pearl. We too must work with grace by seeking for the ultimate treasure in our life. For some people, God comes to them in ways beyond their expectations. For some, God wants them to find Him through study, prayer, and research. We must make ourselves available to the different ways that the Lord wants to touch us, by going for retreats, reading spiritual books or making time for personal prayer. It is not enough to say that God is far from me, if we do not make ourselves available to Him. It is necessary that we find the will of God for ourselves so that we can give ourselves fully to Him and His will.
Regardless whether we find the treasure by chance or by hard work, when we find it, we will find absolute joy in life. We will find our fulfillment. In our joy, in our radical transformation as we give up everything to the Lord, we will find great freedom and peace. Only in that peace and joy can we radiate what we have received. Only in the joy and peace of the Lord can we be His messengers of peace and joy; and be radiant with His love wherever we go and whoever we meet. Indeed, Pope Francis reminds us that to be missionaries of the Good News, we must first receive the good news of joy ourselves. Pope Francis wrote, “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.’” (EG 3)
Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved
Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
- Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
- Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
- It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.
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