Saturday, March 2, 2013


Exodus 3:1-8,13-15; Ps 103 The Lord is Kind and Merciful; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12; Luke 13:1-9

"Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor."

The above is a statement made by the gentlemen whose pen name is Sholem Aleichem, which means peace be with you, oddly enough. 

I like the statement.  I fact I am intrigued by it something terrible. 

Life is a dream for the Wise.
Life is a game for the fool.
Life is a comedy for the rich.
Life is a tragedy for the poor.

Which is it for each of us, I wonder?

I like the statement not because it is true, rather because it is almost true.  It sounds true.  It has nice ring to it.  It is catchy.  Yet, I think it is inaccurate. 

It is a nice play on words that invites thought.  But in the end, it fails to measure fully the impact of life as gift. 

Life is a gift.  Because it is a gift it is filled with windows of opportunities, windows of grace.  These moments can be embraced or forsaken.  

Look at the first reading for today.  Moses is minding his own business, tending to the flock of his father-n-law.  He was simply doing a days work, tedious, boring, mundane. 

Sounds like any given day here and now for the un-intuned mind. 

It wasn't until Moses veered from the routine.  It wasn't until Moses stepped  aside to go and see that the window of opportunity, the window of grace was encountered. 

"I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned."

In this dramatic shift from his humdrum lifestyle, this dramatic shift from the routine of living, Moses avails himself to something more: grace beckons and his hearts refuses to shy away. 

As he approaches, he encounters the call, "Moses, Moses."

Moses responds, "Here I am."  God said, "Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.  I am the God of your fathers."

What a beautiful dialogue.  First of all, I wonder what our life would look like if, when we encounter difficulty or that which is not expected in the daily grind of life, that we were to embrace it with the same response as Moses, "Here I am."

Moses is being present to the moment.  He is not reacting but responding with a simple gesture of being available, allowing the unfolding reality of life to have access to his presence.  He is not worried about what was or what would be but is for the time caught up in what is unfolding in the here and now.

In the gift of his life, he welcomes the gift of the moment.   Here I am.  

Then he receives the invitation to remove his sandals for he is on Holy ground. 

Have you ever been invited to take off your shoes?  It is an awkward invitation.  For so many of us, we live with our guard up.   We shy away from risking being vulnerable.  We get embarrassed at making our feet seen by another. 

It is always interesting to see men take off their shoes at the Holy Thursday Mass.  They are so tentative and self-conscious that they can't wait to put their shoes back on once their feet have been washed. 

I remember on several occasions I was invited to remove my shoes.  A priest friend of mine, when I was a deacon serving at his Good Friday service, mentioned that we were going to celebrate the service barefooted.  I remember being a bit taken back by that.  

I was wondering what people would say or think as we came down the aisle and prostrated before the altar with our bare feet exposed. 

On another occasion visiting my Asian friend's home, I was invited to remove my shoes.  They do it out of routine.  Every time they enter the home their shoes come off .  For them it is probably a simple gesture of not wanting to bring dirt from the outside in.  

But for me, it was more than that.  It meant I could not leave quickly.  It meant I had to stay a while.  It was invitation to surrender, to let down my guard, to receive them as they received me. 

Let's face it, with my shoes off, I could't make a quick exit.  They were demanding from me trust and surrender.  

Is this not what God was inviting Moses to do.  Moses was on God's time table not his own.  Moses wasn't going to include God in his plans but rather he was being asked to be formed by God's plan.  It was no longer Moses dictating, rather God directing.  

The simple gesture of removing his sandals says so much about what we are lacking in our own lives as we interact with so many.  We run around so busily, so rushed that we often forget about the encounter with God awaiting for us in the next person we meet, the burning bush radiant with the face of the divine made in his image and likeness. 

Many people long for the burning bush experience.  We often wish to validate our life by those special encounters we have with the infinite goodness of God entering our time and space and history. 

People go out of their way to recapture that experience or that moment.  We go out of our way to go to those holy places where that are silent witness of God entering our history, our plain of existence. 

This is why we go on pilgrimage, why we go to Rome to pray at the tombs of the saints, why we go to the Holy Land, why we flock to Lourdes, Fatima, and even Medjugorje.  These are good things to do, but we forget that the holiest place on earth is the place we are occupying at any given moment, the place in our life that has surrendered to to God. 

The one thing that is constant about the holy places is each involves a human heart that said yes: the human heart of St. Peter, the human heart of St. Bernadette, the human heart of St. Francis opening wide and letting God have His way with them. 

For God is no longer bound to a place but he as intimately connected himself to a chosen people, He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and so he is the God of each of us. 

We take the burning bush with us as we go!

Especially since Christ comes to live with in us at Baptism, and nourishes us with his very presence in the Eucharist.  Where we are, is holy.  

Remove your shoes today.  Walk around barefoot.  Know you are in a sacred place. Be present.  Let your life be what it is suppose to be a gift for the moment, in the moment of right now. 

The window of opportunity, the window of grace has been opened wide: repent so as not to perish.  Repent means to change your attitude, change your mind, change how you see the burning bush flame out from each moment of your life.  

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