18 July, 2013. Thursday of the Fifteenth Week
Exod 3:13ff. The name Yahweh is revealed; God sends Moses to deliver his people from slavery.
Matt 11:28ff. Come to me, all you who are weary. Take my yoke on you and you will find rest.
First Reading: Exodus 3:13-20
But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.
Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying: I have given heed to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt. I declare that I will bring you up out of the misery of Egypt, to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ They will listen to your voice; and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; let us now go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, so that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ I know, however, that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all my wonders that I will perform in it; after that he will let you go.
Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The Ever-Present One
The long night of slavery in Egypt is coming to an end and Israel is about to be liberated into a new and better existence, a new life in their own land. Moses is to assemble the elders of Israel and tell them of God’s concern for their plight. The people of Israel will not simply be liberated, but the living God will be always with them, into the future. The divine name, Yahweh, derives from the Hebrew verb “to be” and suggests that GOD will be continuously with his people. We might say that the very name “Yahweh” contains this promise “I will be always there”, but when spoken by Israel or by ourselves, it is a prayer (“Please be there at all times with us”).
Jesus underlines this aspect of God in today’s classic text which ought to be memorized. By his intimate relationship with us, he makes our yoke easy and our burden light. He is conscious that life can be weary and burdensome, yet does not make any false, easy promises. The yoke will remain, as will the burden, but with his help they become easy and light. The difference is made by the presence of Jesus who is “gentle and humble of heart.” The God who is with us always, promising ultimate peace at the end, is a gentle and loving Lord.