For more than a generation (about 3300 years ago) the Israelite people journeyed from their four-century captivity in Egypt travelling 700 kms through desert to the abundant life they had been promised by God.
This Exodus account begins with God’s meeting with Moses calling him from his comfortable shepherd’s existence to be one of the greatest leaders in history.
One of Moses’ enduring challenges over the next forty years was that the people he was leading wanted no more than comfort, deciding often as they travelled that they would rather the security of slavery (back in Egypt) than the adventure of faith on a pilgrimage towards freedom.
I’m reminded of one of the most quoted challenges of Pope Benedict: “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
It’s a bit like that tragic old saying: “better the devil you know.”
Despite the extraordinary evidence of the presence and action of God with them (plagues, parting waters, bread from heaven, water from rock to name a few) the people still struggled to accept the attractiveness of what they had witnessed.
To quote Benedict once again, in a reflection on the call of Moses:
“Weary of the journey with an invisible God, now that Moses, their mediator, had disappeared, the people clamoured for an actual, tangible presence of the Lord, and in the calf of molten metal made by Aaron found a god made accessible, manageable and within human reach”.
Our problem is we fail to accept that the ground on which we walk is holy ground because this is where Jesus is speaking to us today. And when we do recognise the divine voice we too often prefer the comfort of a God we can control.
“This is a constant temptation on the journey of faith: to avoid the divine mystery by constructing a comprehensible god who corresponds with one’s own plans, one’s own projects.”
There is a great challenge posed in the novel The Sparrow, (Mary Doria Russell)
“Once, long ago, she’d allowed herself to think seriously about what human beings would do, confronted directly with a sign of God’s presence in their lives. The Bible, that repository of Western wisdom, was instructive either as myth or as history, she’d decided. God was at Sinai and within weeks, people were dancing in front of a golden calf. God walked in Jerusalem and days later, folks nailed Him up and then went back to work. Faced with the Divine, people took refuge in the banal, as though answering a cosmic multiple-choice question: If you saw a burning bush, would you (a) call 911, (b) get the hot dogs, or (c) recognise God? A vanishingly small number of people would recognise God.
Let’s be like Moses and recognise God in the each day’s events and people, and hearing Jesus call us let’s respond and embrace the adventure of faith.