God’s Glory on the Face of Moses and St. Martha
The Glory of God on Moses’ Face
In Exodus 34 the two tablets of stones that Moses broke because of the Golden Calf Incident is remade. There are however additional commandments given — a sign that Israel’s retraining has also begun. The Golden Calf incident was symptomatic that Egypt has not yet died in the hearts of the Israelites; that they still yearn for the slavery from which Yahweh has saved them. The multiplication of laws after the apostasy of Israel with Yahweh setting himself at a distance is a retraining for Israel — they will have to kill Egypt in their hearts, otherwise, they will not survive in the land of Canaan where they are going. Israel will remember 613 laws that it will have to obey so as to show itself faithful and loyal to its God.
The renewal of the tablets is not yet the renewal of the covenant that was broken by apostasy. The renewal will be made later under Joshua (Joshua 24). Before the renewal can be made, the Israelites will still have to learn how to live in the House of Yahweh. Thus, the building of the Tabernacle will occupy the rest of Exodus. Following this will be the “economy of holiness” that will be explained in Leviticus. And then, after those who have made themselves party to the Golden Calf have died out and a new generation has grown under this retraining, Moses will give them the scroll of the Second Law: Deuteronomy. This will be their immediate preparation for entrance into the Promised Land.
Related to the renewal of the tablets is the proclamation of Yahweh’s mercies to Moses. It is a private affair between the Lord and His spokesman. Henceforward, Moses becomes the reminder to Israel that Yahweh is just right around the corner. The Glory of Yahweh shining on Moses’ face — the external sign to the people — will have a corresponding interior mark in Moses: the memory of the Lord’s revelation of Himself as the Merciful and the Compassionate. This memory will become the substance of Deuteronomy. Moses was shown as Yahweh passed by that God was a God who loves. This will become the basis of Deuteronomy: the response to this God who loves must also be love.
Some Thoughts On St. Martha
St. Martha known to readers of the Gospels as the sister of Mary and Lazarus is presented by Luke in a catechetical lesson about balancing the one real concern of the disciple and the many things that drag his attention daily. St. Augustine put a name to this: he called it the tension between “holy leisure” (otium sanctum) and the “business of charity” (negotium caritatis). In Luke 10:38-42, Martha exemplifies the woman busy in the works of charity while Mary her sister sits by the feet of the Lord in holy leisure. Martha’s request to the Lord gives expression to possible objections to Christians who spend more time in prayer, lectio divina, rather than work. The Lord’s answer emphasizes the necessity of such leisure but does not belittle the industry of Martha. Martha’s faith operates in many works of charity, but there is still one thing necessary: a faith that listens to the Lord. This will not be taken away from Mary.
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