Wednesday in the 15th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
Growing into Childhood
Readings: Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12; Psalm 103:1b-2, 3-4, 6-7; Mathew 11:25-27
What do you want to be when you grow up? Many of us were probably asked this question as children. It’s an important question to reflect upon, not least because it invites dreams of the future and inspires efforts to make them come through. As children, we look forward to growing up. Which is why Jesus’ words in today’s gospel sound so surprising and puzzling to us. Jesus blesses his heavenly Father for hiding the mysteries of God from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Are we then to strive, in some way, never to grow up, to remain as perpetual children? Or are we not instead being called precisely to grow up into children.
Isn’t this the experience of Moses, in the first reading? At this stage in the story, he is no longer a child in years. He is already a married man, tending his father-in-law’s flock. And yet, God reveals God’s self to him in the wilderness. So if we are to believe what Jesus says in the gospel then Moses must be a child in some way. Otherwise, how could he experience the God who reveals God’s self to mere children? And we have only to remember how his story has progressed thus far to see that this is true. We may recall, for example, how Moses comes to be in Midian. He is in self-imposed exile, after killing an Egyptian, and being rejected even by his own fellow Hebrews. Who appointed you, to be prince over us, and judge? And it is this experience of failure and exile that has prepared Moses to encounter God. He has gradually come to see his own neediness and helplessness in the sight of God. His heart has gradually been opened to receive God’s call. He has grown up into childhood.
And it is in this second childhood, so to speak, that Moses sees the burning bush. But as extraordinary a sight as this may seem to be, it’s important also to note that Moses sees it whilst in the midst of his everyday routine of pasturing the flock. The extraordinary call from God comes to him in the ordinariness of daily life. And although the call is addressed to him most intimately and personally – Moses, Moses! – its significance extends to the whole Hebrew people. I send you to Pharaoh to bring… my people out of Egypt.
If the call of Moses is indeed a pattern of how God calls and reveals God’s self to God’s people, then it’s clearly important for us to consider how open we are to receiving this call in the ordinary circumstances of our own lives. How open are we to be called and sent for the benefit of others? To ask these questions of ourselves is also to consider where we stand in the Christian life. Are we growing enough into childhood to receive the call of God? Where and how might we encounter our burning bushes ?
What would you like to be when you grown up?