Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezekiel 9:1-7.10:18-22; Matthew 18:15-20)

Internet applications like Skype and Facetime give contemporary women and men the experience of talking to others face-to-face without actually being in their presence. However, marvelous such conversations may be, they are hardly as intimate as being in one another’s presence.  In fact one of the current issues in prison reform is assuring that prisoners have direct, not electronic, access to visitors. In the first reading today, Moses is exulted for having known the Lord “face to face.” But what do these words mean and how do they compare with Christian belief that Christ saw the Father?

Various interpretations of the words are given.  Some say they do not indicate a direct encounter with the Lord because in the Book of Exodus God tells Moses that “’no one shall see me and live’” (33:20).  Of course, there is also the very real question of God, a purely spiritual being, having a material face.  It is best to conclude that Moses enjoyed a spiritual intimacy with God like no one else before the writing of the Book of Deuteronomy. 

At one point in Deuteronomy Moses himself mentions another prophet who will come after him.  This prophet will have God’s own words in his mouth and bring a definitive revelation of God’s will.  We find fulfillment of this prophecy in Jesus Christ.  The Gospel of John quotes him as saying, at least indirectly, that he has seen the Father: “’Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father’” (6:46).  His seeing of the Father constitutes a knowing that goes beyond Moses’ spiritual intimacy.  It is a divine indwelling whereby as Jesus again says in John: “(He) and the Father are one’” (10:30).  An approximation of this indwelling with its accompanying knowledge of God is what is promised to followers of Jesus in the beatitudes: “’Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God’” (Matthew 5:8).