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Our God

Fr Terry writes:

It is very easy to think we can cut God down to our size. That may sound bizarre but it happens when we create God in our own image; a God who reflects our values, who boosts our ego, who never challenges us. Today's scripture gives us pause for thought.

In the first reading from Exodus, Moses covers his face, afraid to look at the burning bush which symbolises the divine presence. God, it is clear, is awesome. Yet God is not remote, but one who sees the suffering of the Hebrew slaves and promises to bring them freedom. This is God who has slowly revealed himself in history, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Even so, God is greater than the greatest human understanding, for when Moses asks God his name, the reply is dizzying. I Am Who I Am. God is not one more thing in a universe of things. God is not one more force in a world of forces. God is the source of all life yet greater than all life, God is the power behind all human knowledge and yet beyond human understanding. God is not to be neatly named and parcelled up. Before God, we bow in utter respect.

God, however, does not leave matters there. God loves us and reaches out to us in Christ. Part of God's greatness is the greatness of his love. St Paul sees Christ in terms of Moses, inspired by God to lead his people into freedom, with this huge difference, that Christ, as Son of God, was able to feed his people himself. Hence the reference to Christ as a rock from whom his people drink. It seems a strange image, until we recall that when they were thirsty in the desert at Meribah, Moses, after seeking help from God, was told to strike a rock. He did so, and from it flowed a spring of water from which the grateful people drank (Exodus 17.6).

God is awesome yet cares for us. Our behaviour cannot be hidden from God, who asks us to turn from whatever is harmful. God asks us in fact, to change our lives and to live by the highest good and the greatest love that we can. Repentance gives us the repeated opportunity to turn back on the right path. The opportunity for this is now. Time will not last for ever.

The words of Jesus in the gospel are carefully balanced. Yes, he says, there are terrible things that happen in the world. But we should not rush to connect these with divine wrath. Jesus draws a different conclusion. Tyrants will behave viciously. It’s in their nature. Ill-constructed towers will collapse. Perhaps they were planned badly or built shoddily. This is not God's will. Rather, we can use such moments, and the sombre reflections that they bring, to review our life, renew our faith and commit ourselves once more to the path of life given us by God.

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