Merciful Moses

First Reading: Exodus 32:7-14

The LORD said to Moses,
“Go down at once to your people
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
‘This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’
The LORD said to Moses,
“I see how stiff-necked this people is.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation.”

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
“Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
‘With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth’?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’“
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 106:19-20, 21-22, 23

R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Gospel: John 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews:
“If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John’s.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

“I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?”


mar 10

In the First Reading today, Moses pleads for mercy for the stiff-necked people of Israel while their God has a plan to punish them. Obvious to us, and probably them, they deserved it. Molten calf. Depraved behavior. After all God had done for them, bringing them out of slavery, parting the Red Sea (!), and feeding them mana from Heaven, they’re acting badly. Very badly.

I think to my little almost four year old daughter, and how quick she is to defend her nearly six year old brother. How when my wrath turns on him because once again, he has teased his sister to tears. Once again, after all I’ve done for him, he refuses to listen to my very basic direction: go to the bathroom, please. This little girl, even when she was bawling her eyes out a minute before, will step in and say “maybe I can save this [item in controversy] until he comes back” or “he can still read the book and I’ll give him my spot to read in.” She’s naturally merciful. She’s my little Moses.

All those big feelings we women feel, blame it on the hormones, blame it on the bad sleep worrying about our job, our family, our aging parents, our unanswered text from that guy we are crushing on, they can consume us and justify our actions. I’m right. I’m in the right. I’m justified. 

It often doesn’t matter how right or righteous we are. Our feelings of indignation, of anger, of wanting to punish and pass judgment can only be completed in that New Testament Jesus, He Who is the perfect display of God’s mercy to a fallen race of human beings. God is just, but He is also merciful.

[Tweet “Let us seek to soften ourselves in God’s mercy.”]

Where can you let go of being right in your life today? What actions are you taking based on your feelings of righteous indignation? Let us be Moses and seek to soften ourselves in God’s mercy.

photo by Whoa Nellie Photography

Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.

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