Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with the Lord.
Exalt the Lord our God;
bow down before Zion, his footstool.
He the Lord is holy. (R./)
Among his priests were Aaron and Moses,
among those who invoked his name were Samuel.
They invoked the Lord and he answered. (R./)
To them he spoke in the pillar of cloud.
They did his will; they kept the law,
which he, the Lord, had given. (R./)
Exalt the Lord our God;
bow down before his holy mountain
for the Lord our God is holy.
Jesus said to his disciples,"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it."
At some turning points in our lives, and certainly at the hour of death, we are faced with the prospect of leaving all behind to embrace something radically new. While in the gospel Jesus asks his disciples for radical dedication to the Kingdom of God, the Exodus reading also illustrates how, in his loyal service of God, Moses was transformed. This mighty warrior had led his people out of Egypt towards the Promised Land. Now, after being in intimate conversation with God, Moses had such a foretaste of heaven that "the skin of his face became radiant." The peace, strength and compassion of God shone from the eyes and face of this man of God.
The radiance on the face of Moses was too much for the Israelites. They backed away so that Moses had to shout to them from a distance and from then on began to wear a veil to hide his face. Like people who prefer to worship from the very back of the church, the Jews did not want God to be too close to them. They were happy to let Moses be their spokesman and intercessor. Yet, when important decisions had to be made, the people were anxious for God’s guidance. We too are grateful for the saints who have shown us the way to live a life pleasing to God. They help us to know right from wrong and to live generously, until in the end we gain the pearl of great price, eternal life with God.
There may be times in life when our struggle is not against what is evil or immoral, but will be coping with misfortune, or even feeling abandoned even by God. In those times we need faith to believe that, like the merchant in search of that priceless pearl, it really is there to be found.
In both of today’s pithy parables, people find something of high value, one a box of treasure and the other a priceless pearl. How they make these discoveries is quite different. One finds treasure by accident, while not looking for anything in particular. He was working for wages, digging in someone else’s field, and the last thing he expected to find was a trunk of buried treasure. In the other case, the merchant was actively searching for fine pearls and, eventually, as a result of persistent searching, found one pearl of great value which stood out from all the rest.
Both are images of the kingdom of God. Both suggest that our relationship with God is greater than any earthly treasure. The first parable suggests that this treasure comes to us as a grace. We can be surprised by God’s gracious initiative, hidden beneath the surface of our lives. Grace can break through to us when we are least expecting it. The second parable highlights the importance of searching in coming to know God. The person who seeks will find If we knock we will have the door opened. We can be, and will be, surprised by grace, but also we are called to seek him with all our heart and soul.##