21 Pentecost, Oct. 29
Deut. 34:1-12 or Lev. 19:1-2, 15-18
Ps. 90:1-6, 13-17 or Ps. 1
1 Thess. 2:1-8 • Matt. 22:34-46
God says: “I have let you see it with your eyes.” Moses looks out from the top of Pisgah, over the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan (Deut. 34:1). Scanning, he looks and wonders, feeling hope and the burden of age. At 120 years old, he is told by a divine whisper, “You shall not cross over there” (Deut. 34:4). “Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died in the land of Moab at the Lord’s command” (Deut. 34:5).
Although he surveys from a distance and would never walk on promised land, Moses, the old man of God, had years of seeing, of beholding, of contemplating the presence of God. “Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deut. 34:10). Moses was himself a land of the living, a dwelling place for friendship with God. In death, he was hidden with God in Christ, for “no one knows his burial place to this day” (Deut. 34:6).
Not arriving, he has already arrived. He knows and feels poetic words: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps. 90:1-2). Like the grass renewed in the morning, Moses is new each day, looking into the face of eternal and everlasting good.
One like Moses, and yet greater than Moses, is the friend of God in a shared love that was before time and forever, Jesus Christ our Lord. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Holy as the Father is holy, he renders no unjust judgment, is not partial to the poor, does not defer to the great, commits no slander among the people, does not profit by the shedding of blood, does not hate from the heart, does not take vengeance or bear a grudge (Lev. 19:2, 15-18). There is so much Jesus does not do, which correlates to what he does do. He loves his neighbor as himself, as if the neighbor were a son or daughter of the Father, as he himself is by nature.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the two great commandments. His love of the Father is eternally responsive, immediate, and unrestrained. His love of humanity intends the salvation of all, so that each person and the human family together may, by adoption and grace, attain friendship with God. Jesus is a world, a universe, the will of the Father everywhere.
Can we imagine the landscape of his life, see as he sees? We can start and we can try, and we must. Consider then a short meditation from The Fire of Love by Richard Rolle: “The nature of love is that it is diffusive, unifying, and transforming. It is diffusive when it flows out and sheds the rays of its goodness not merely on friends and neighbors, but on enemies and strangers as well. It unites because it makes lovers one in deed and will, and draws into one Christ and every holy soul. He who holds on to God is one in spirit with him, not by nature, but by grace and identity of will. Love also has the power of transforming, for it transforms the lover into his Beloved, and makes him dwell in him.” These mystical words of the 14th century may require updating, but very little.
Jesus is a land flowing with milk and honey, a dwelling place we may share. He is also the friend of the Father, the face that becomes our own.
Look It Up
Read Deuteronomy 34:4.
Think About It
See and be seen in a friendship of trust.