Although he could have had a privileged status growing up in Pharaoh’s household, Moses instead never forgets his people, and standing up for them becomes a fugitive in the desert. There in the silence of the desert God summons Moses through the burning bush to lead his people to freedom.
Yet initially Moses fears and resists God’s call. He objects: I am not worthy of this mission, I do not know God’s name, I will not be believed by the Israelites, I have a stammering tongue… so many objections, all ultimately asking ‘Why?’ Why do you choose and send me?
With these fears, with his lack of trust, with his wavering heart, how can Moses pray? Pope Francis notes: “Indeed, Moses appears human like us. And this happens to us too: when we have doubts, how can we pray? We do not feel like praying. And it is because of this, his weakness, as well as his strength, that we are impressed.”‘
The prayer of Moses is a striking example of intercession. Depicted in scripture with hands outstretched to God, Moses makes of himself a kind of bridge between earth and heaven. He pleads for the people when they are most in need, when they are tempted, even when the people reject God and Moses and make for themselves a golden calf, he still prays, “Lord, forgive their sin” (Exodus 32:32).
Moses is a bridge; an intercessor, a messenger, a coworker in God’s plan of salvation. What a beautiful example for all pastors who must be ‘bridges’ between the people and God. But this is not only for pastors: each of us are urged to intercede for the world, to know that despite all its failings, the world still belongs to God. Pope Francis says, “The intercessory attitude is proper to the saints who, in imitation of Jesus, are ‘bridges’ between God and his people.”
Pope Francis invites us to meditate on Moses as mediator by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2574-2577. Jesus is the ultimate bridge between us and the Father, He intercedes for us; He shows the Father the wounds that are the price of our salvation, and HE intercedes. Thus Moses prefigures Jesus, our great intercessor and high priest.
May we always intercede for those who need God’s help, and pray for the redemption of the whole world.