March 14, 2022, 1:00 PM

Before the burning bush, God identifies himself to Moses.  God says, “I AM WHO I AM.”  God says further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

What?  “I am who I am?”  Or, a more precise translation which uses the qual form of the verb in Hebrew, “I am becoming whom I am becoming.”  Again, What?  Who takes on the name of “I am who I am?”  Why not the name Tom, Dick, Harry or Mary?  At least we can visualize someone with one of those names. 

St. Francis in living alone, and many times in a cave, had little use for the names of people since they were seldom with him anyway.  His sense of God came through direct connection with nature.  Nature has no name.  Nature simply is and does its thing.  Nature moves among all that exists and embraces a relationship with everything it touches.  In a similar way, like nature, God moves between everything and everyone.  God is the connection piece – always moving, always relating, always creating.  

Imagine three people dancing in a circle.  The dance is performed by the people, but the people are not the dance.  So too with God, our image of God is not in a person dancing.  God is found in the motion, the surprise, the music, the relationship between the dance partners.  God has no fixed image.  Hence, God is able to say, “I am whom I am,” or “I am becoming whom I am becoming.”

Giving up an image of God that we may be carrying with us from our childhood is difficult.   We like stable images, something on which we can hang.  While God is constantly with us, God is still beyond our grasp.  A God beyond our understanding keeps us from grabbing onto God and allows God to grab us.  The early church fathers would call that act of grabbing, “Grace.”

In this time of Lent with war, disease, and financial insecurity surrounding us, may we realize that God is grabbing us and dancing with us as the God who is found as the great “I am.”  Our work during Lent is to see that God has always been closer to us than we have realized.  With that closeness, we are assured that we are loved, and taken care of; we need to fear nothing.  God has promised to embrace us forever in his expanding dance. 

With prayer and encouragement,

Fr. John Meulendyk

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