Posted by: jevcat | March 27, 2012

Moses, Mary, and Me

I find myself struck – and not a little amused – by the juxtaposition in the daily lectionary caused by the conjunction of this year’s Easter date and the readings for Year Two.  This has resulted in the Gospel for the Feast of the Annunciation being cheek-by-jowl, as it were, with the readings from Exodus of God calling Moses to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt.

It would be hard to find two people more different than Moses and Mary.  Moses is raised in Pharaoh’s household – even his name is Egyptian, not Hebrew – mostly away from his people and vastly more advantaged than they.  Whatever privations his birth family endured, Moses was raised as a privileged one-percenter.  But it didn’t last, and, in exile after killing a man, he is reduced to working as a shepherd for his father-in-law.  Which is what he is doing when he encounters God’s call to him from the burning bush.  He’s intrigued by the bush that burns but is not consumed.  About what God is calling him to do, however, he has distinctly less enthusiasm.

Moses doesn’t exactly say no – very few of us have the nerve to just flat out say no to God – but he certainly does not say yes.  Instead, he does what I might do:  he temporizes.  He finds every possible reason not to do what God has just told him to do:  the Israelites won’t believe me, Pharaoh won’t listen anyway, and besides, I stutter.  Perfectly valid reasons.  God counters every one, and sends him anyway.

Then there’s Mary, named, perhaps, for Moses’s sister Miriam.  She was raised, if not in poverty, certainly not in wealth, and in the midst of her people and her own culture.  We assume she was religious, but she may not have been overly so.  What she was, was open.  When the angel appeared, she doesn’t seem to have been too phased by it – Gabriel’s “Fear not” seems almost superfluous.  She’s not.  What she is, like Moses, is curious.  And, like him, she answers back, but in her own way.  Mary, bless her, doesn’t look for reasons NOT to do what God is calling her to do.  She doesn’t say why she can’t do it; she asks how she can.  And then she says yes.

I confess, there’s a part of me that really wants to turn this into a male-female thing, to say of Moses’s reaction, “It’s a ‘guy’ thing,” to write how the whole thing illustrates the superiority of women to men.  But it’s a human thing, and we all react differently to God’ call.  We may hope our initial reaction to God’s call would be more like Mary’s but, in the end, the important thing is that they both said yes.  May we say yes, also.

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