Sunday of Epiphany Year B St Anthony, Abbott and Martin Luther King

Wednesday after Epiphany

Print Version January 8th, 2000

When Moses, high on Mount Sinai, asks to see God’s glory, God does indeed agree to pass by him and reveal the holy splendour. But there are conditions: First, Moses must hide in a cleft of the rock because God’s presence is so powerful it would roast him; and second, since no one can see God’s face and live, Moses is only going to get to see God’s rear. Yes God’s behind. God’s backside. What Jo Milgrom, Jewish scholar, once called a theo-fanny.
Well even with these precautions you know from Cecil B De Mille the experience turns Moses hair grey and makes it stand on end for the rest of the movie.
No wonder then that the disciples in the boat are terrified when Jesus in turn intends to pass by them walking on stormy waves in the watch of the night. They are terrified. They think they have seen a ghost. Something dead walking. Now, Jesus is all reassurance and calm but Mark wants us to know they all were so afraid because they hadn’t got it about the loaves whatever that means —the miracle of the feeding had passed them by. Maybe? But what’s our excuse?
Let me not accuse you of being as screwed up as I am—what’s my excuse? I know that Jesus spends much of my waking hours trying to pass by me—trying to show himself to me—trying to convince me of his love, convince me of his care, convince me even of his need. But I am not impressed. I don’t even have the decency to be afraid most of the time … I have perfected the art of looking the other way. Like Elijah’s copycat theophany in Moses’ cold cave on Sinai, when God tries to pass him by the flame and fire are empty, the earthquake and thunder are empty, all Elijah can hear is the sound of nothing.
It’s a strange resistance in me because, in fact, all my experience of Jesus has been good. He has never scared me … but he has soothed my pain. He has never threatened me but he has held me while I cried. He has never abused me but he has believed in me when no other would.
“We have come to know,” says John, “the love God has for us.” True! But still, lest my hair turn white and stand on end, I flinch, I turn my back and I pass on by.
I think I know why: I think if I saw him face to face, without disguise, I think if I saw those eyes reflecting mine, I think, then, I would fall in love. And God knows where that would lead me!

Entry Filed under: Berkeley,Homilies


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