Moses was Jewish — an Israelite, son-in-law of Jethro, the priest of Midian. Now, that being said, would you not think that if God wanted to talk with Moses, God might have had ample opportunity to find him at prayer? Wouldn’t Moses have been more likely to expect God to talk to him when he was contemplating spiritual things? Maybe he wouldn’t have been so hesitant about doing what God wanted if he had had a little warning — like when he was praying! But that’s not where God chose to meet Moses. God chose to meet Moses when “Moses was tending the flock …” In other words, God chose to meet Moses at work.
“[Moses] was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed.” I’ll bet he was surprised! Just think about it. My son’s friend, Steve, is a landscape architect. What would happen if, while Steve was out visiting a client, he came upon a bush that “… though on fire, was not consumed”? Being curious (like Moses) he’d probably walk over to “…look at it more closely.” Now what do you think he’d do if he heard a voice coming out of the bush calling “Steve! Steve”? I’m guessing that, after making sure that it wasn’t some friend of his playing a joke on him, he would not only be surprised but probably scared silly. Steve’s Catholic, and he might (and this is a stretch) be able to handle it if he heard God calling his name at Mass some Sunday. But at work? I don’t think so.
After Moses went over to check out the bush (and got over being surprised) he responded, “Here I am. …” That’s when God told him that that place — the place where Moses worked — was “holy ground.”
Questions for reflection
1. Do we believe that God is everywhere?
2. Do we believe that God is in our workplace? Then why does it sometimes seem that the workplace is the last place we look for God? Is it because God’s not there?
3. Or could it be that we’re so busy making a living that even a burning bush couldn’t get our attention?
Van Benthem is pastoral associate at St. Raphael the Archangel Parish, Oshkosh, and a writer, poet and spiritual director.