The suggested Collect for today underlines the importance of the first reading even as the Gospel accentuates its mystery. In this passage from Genesis, Moses meets “God the Father.” If his fatherhood is not yet revealed (because the Son has not been revealed) we nevertheless recognize the Creator God who “fathers forth whose beauty is past change. Praise him.”
Until this time the Hebrews and Moses have known God only as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But without a name they could not call upon him. A woman might, on a long shot, guess Rumpelstiltskin about a troublesome troll; but no one could guess the name of God is YHWH. Some wise people (wizards) might suppose this god should exist but, until he speaks to them, their cleverness will do them little good.
This initial revelation of God occurs in a past that is all but prehistoric. This God, it seems, was always there. And yet the story of the burning bush is firmly anchored in a place and time that are not mythological. We know where Mount Sinai is, and we know of the amazing Egyptian civilization that perdures to this day. Except for the supposed "fact" that God is not supposed to appear -- or allowed to appear -- in our world, the story is entirely plausible, unlike many Greek, Roman and Nordic myths.
Centuries later, when the Jewish religion and its doctrine of one all-powerful, all-knowing and all-just and -merciful God had won admiration throughout the Roman Empire, the Lord revealed the Trinitarian nature of God: Jesus is the Son of God; the Holy Spirit is the third person. There is one God in a trinity of three persons whose love of each other is perfect. That love and obedience and admiration and pleasure in one another is so intense and absolute that we cannot speak of a trinity as three gods; there is but One.
But – this mystery is revealed only to the childlike. Of course, others think they understand. They might say: “Father/Son/Holy Ghost: what’s the big deal?”
|Father Conrad relaxes|
with the friars on
"Knowing God" is not thinking logical thoughts about God. As we used to say of my Masters in Theology, "That and fifty cents won't get you downtown on the Metro."
Knowing God is being intimately and passionately delighted, amazed, enthralled and surrendered to the inexhaustible goodness of the Lord who gazes upon you with penetrating compassion. To know God is not to know who has taken your hand and is leading you where you know not. It is believing That One is Good, all Good, and Supreme Good. Knowing God is not knowing but rather being known by God, and surrendering one's control, purpose and destiny to the One whose face is too brilliant for vision.
These things have been hidden from the wise and the clever. They are revealed only to the childlike.