Our first reading today from Exodus continues the story of the call of Moses. The dialogue between God and Moses is truly a striking one. Moses knows that the Hebrew people in Egypt will have little reason to believe that God has sent him; much less will they automatically put their trust in him. So he asks for God’s name so he can tell the people who it was that sent him to them. God’s response to Moses is, “tell them that I AM has sent me to you.” I AM, the one who is always present to you, who is always with you, who knows the pain of your suffering. Moses is coming to the people, not on behalf of someone who is far away but on behalf of someone who is right now with them in every way. And God goes on to say that “they will heed you.” And heed Moses they did…as we shall see as the story unfolds.
The beautiful passage from today’s Gospel puts an interesting gloss on our first reading. Jesus invites everyone who is burdened to come to him and to learn from him. He assures them that in him they will find rest for his “yoke is easy and (his) burden light.” I can’t help but wonder how Moses would have heard these words of Jesus. I doubt that Moses found the yoke and burden placed on his shoulders easy or light. He struggled for forty years to fulfill the charge that God had given him.
Yet we know from the rest of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus shared in the name of God that Moses received. Just like the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Jesus was and is right here with us. He is not far away but has fully shared our human experience, knows our sufferings, remains with us still in his Word, in the Eucharist and in the Church. It is surely Christ’s continued presence with us that eases the burdens we carry.
So, today we are reminded that God is still with us in every part of our lives just as God was present to Moses, to the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, in Jesus walking among us and in Jesus still with us. We know the name of God in the deepest part of our being.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.