Moses was a man who knew God intimately. He was also a great leader of the people. Moses was a man of humility; he was also a man in the public eye. He was a mystic; he was a political liberator.
Here was a man who met God in the fire of the burning bush and in the clouded darkness and thunder on Mount Sinai. Here was a man who, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, mediated between God and his people.
We tend to think that getting to know God is a process of moving from darkness to light. It is. Outside of the way to God is ignorance and darkness. At the very best, one stumbles around without direction. More likely, in one's confusion, one does serious damage either to oneself or to others.
When we come to know the Lord, we walk in the way of light. We see the truth and the truth makes us free. Life is filled with joy. Winter gives way to spring.
However, St. Gregory of Nyssa sees in Moses' ascent of Mount Sinai a further development. The leader who first met God in the fire of the burning bush and who follows the pillar of fire through the wilderness now becomes even more intimate with God. And what Moses finds is not greater light, but darkness. He sees God in the formless mist of the dark cloud and he hears him speak in the inarticulate crash of thunder.
Moses has come face to face with the unknowability of God. He has met God and journeyed with him and now finds that God is totally, thoroughly incomprehensible.
Gregory, a fourth century mystic, describes Moses as having arrived at "a seeing that consists in not seeing." Moses receives an odd sort of vision, a negative way of knowing. "That which is sought transcends all knowledge, being separated on all sides by incomprehensibility as by a kind of darkness" (The Life of Moses, 163).
Yet because Moses has drawn so close to God, he is a fitting mediator between God and his people. Out of this unknowing comes very important, very specific knowledge. Out of the darkness, Moses brings God's instructions for right living, the path that will draw people close to God. And, because of Moses' intimacy with God, he is able to intercede on behalf of his people and have God listen to his pleas.
Oh, that today we would have such leaders! Oh, that the leaders of our society would draw close to God and not be mocked by the media if they did so!
No wonder our country is in ruin, wracked with dissension, on the verge of being split asunder. No wonder we have growing numbers of unemployed and growing numbers of overworked, stressed-out people. No wonder we have unparalleled wealth at the same time that child poverty is escalating by leaps and bounds. No wonder families are collapsing and the unborn are slain in the womb.
We have dared to think we can build a nation without relying on God. We have made ourselves arbiters of what is right and wrong without coming face to face with the God who is beyond all knowing. We cannot come into his presence without first removing our sandals. Yet we would usurp his power.
Oh, that we would have a leader like Moses! A leader who has entered the darkness with God and who converses with him often. A leader of no ambition, humble means and no charisma, yet one who is driven by the power of God. A leader who is a mediator between God and humanity.
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