24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

13 Sept 1998

The Saving Word Down Under

by Terence J. McKenna

Exodus 32:7-14

The theme today speaks about the love of God, which is entirely given by God to us even though individually we are not entitled to expect it because of our sinful nature. But God responds when we ask.

The Exodus story places Moses in the position of an intermediary. This role seems to have been perpetuated in oral tradition - for example the Psalm is familiar with the event - Ps 106: 23 "had not Moses His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him, to turn away His wrath from destroying them". I am not aware of any direct reference to the intermediary role of Moses in the New Testament, except of course to his appearance along with Elijah at the Transfiguration which relates more to the End Time and traditional expectations of how that Time will be announced.

Exodus 32: 7-14 has always begged questions for me - why did God tell Moses of His intentions to destroy His people, when He should have known how Moses would response. What would the Egyptians think about rescuing them from Egypt only to destroy them a few years later in the desert.

The answer may well lie within the context of understanding one of the Ten Commandments - that of not worshiping other gods. As an example of the consequences of apostasy the Elohist recounts the event in the desert - Horeb being the Northern equivalent to Sinai. Throughout the Old Testament countless examples of traditional history are retold to provide the background to the Torah - examples from the past showing that history is not dead.

Furthermore, had not God promised Abraham that the Israelites would possess the Promised Land ? Apostasy would normally spell disaster, but with God there is an opportunity for a new covenant instead.

Both the OT Reading and the Gospel present the Homilist with asking - do we need an intermediary between God and ourselves? (Comments to Mac at tmckenna@netconnect.com.au)