When Moses encounters God in the form of a burning bush on Mt. Horeb, he has no doubts about what he is experiencing, and hides his face for he [is] afraid to look at God. In this Sunday’s reading from Exodus, when Moses asks for clarification of God’s name, God responds, I am who am. The present tense verb am is telling: God is offering the Israelites a new understanding of God as a constant, active presence in their lives, capable of reaching into human difficulty and changing it: I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians, God says. God is always with them, a living presence, active in their lives, merciful and gracious, abounding in kindness (Psalm 103) – effective if they are aware of it, and embrace His call to relationship.
Although we don't always have "burning bush moments" to spur us on, our own response to God’s call to relationship can’t be selective, as Jesus tells the people in our reading from Luke. Timing is important! The people killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them could not have known the moment of their demise; the fig tree gets a reprieve only through the intervention of the gardener, who promises to tend it and help it bear fruit. Whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall, Paul tells the people of Corinth.
While God may always be active in our lives, it is up to us to recognize God’s presence, to be actively faithful to relationship, blessing the Lord with our whole soul and being. Jesus is our spiritual rock, our spiritual food and drink, it is true; but he is a life-giving source only if we are open to it, if we are willing to accept the life he gives us, a life in which he is alive within us, and among us. We are called to reject passivity and actively receive Christ in our lives, daily, ever anew. It is a radical notion of dynamic relationship: to choose to actively grow in God’s presence, living our faith, embracing the Christ we find among us every day.
This reflection is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.