Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
As we approach each day’s readings, the context is always so important. It’s helpful to go back to the beginning of Exodus chapter 34 to flesh out the richness of today’s passage. God summons Moses back to Mt Sinai so that God can rewrite the commandments on stone tablets to replace the ones Moses broke. As Moses comes into God’s presence on the mountain, God speaks, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin” (Ex. 34:6). God continues, “I am making a covenant with you . . .” (vs 10). God makes a covenant with the people. It’s a covenant of faithful love. God goes on to describe the divine intentions and gives Moses many other directives and instructions beyond the Ten Commandments. Fundamentally, however, the covenant isn’t about rules and regulations; God’s covenants with God’s people always center in love.
In today’s passage, we see the transfiguration of Moses. This event foreshadows the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matt. 17:1-13). When Moses enters God’s presence, his face becomes radiant, so much so that the people cannot bear to look at him. The glory of God shining from his face is too overwhelming and awesome. When Moses shares God’s words with the people, he does so with an unveiled face, but when he finishes speaking, he covers his face with a veil until he returns again to meet with God.
St Paul takes this Exodus text and reinterprets it in light of our reality in Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:4-18 reads:
Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
We, as members of the Body of Christ, are ministers of a new covenant! This is a glorious ministry fueled by the Holy Spirit! In that second paragraph, Paul uses the words glory/glorious ten times – I think he’s trying to make a point! Because our reality in Christ involves participation in his New Covenant, his Eucharistic Covenant, God invites us to boldly reflect God’s glory to the world. Thanks be to God that anything that veils us from seeing or knowing God is taken away when we come into relationship with the Holy Trinity through Christ! Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. Moses received the Old Covenant from God, a glorious and awesome reality. But that covenant was a type, a foreshadowing, of what was to come. The people of Moses’ day could not bear to behold the glory of God face-to-face – they didn’t have the human capacity for it (and we don’t either). But God has given us God’s Spirit! Through Christ’s work on the Cross and the gift of the Holy Spirit NOW we are invited into the very presence of God. We come with an unveiled face to contemplate God’s glory and to allow God to transform us more and more into God’s image.
I invite you to reflect and meditate with me today on this glorious reality. What does it mean to you that you have this kind of bold access to God? Are you wearing any kind of false veil that would keep others from seeing the glory of God on your face today? Can you be bold enough and humble enough to allow Christ to lovingly remove your veil? Let’s ask God to show us anything within us that might be preventing us from reflecting that glory so that we can be free – nothing bound, nothing held back, nothing covered up. Free to be loving and fruitful ministers of this new covenant in Christ.
As part of your prayer today, you might consider praying with Chris Tomlin’s song, Where the Spirit of the Lord is. God bless you today to walk in freedom and to reflect God’s glory.
- Elizabeth Wourms