Note: today’s first reading is on Exodus 2:1-15a. The Bishop dealt with Ex 2:1-10 in the context of Moses infancy. His comments on Ex 1:1-2:10 can be read here.
THE FLIGHT OF MOSES
MOSES was reared at the court of Pharao, and instructed in all the learning of Egypt. But when he was grown up and saw the misery of his people, the Hebrews, he resolved to help them. For he would rather be afflicted and despised with the people of God, than live in the palace of a wicked king. He left (1) the splendour of the court, and openly declared himself a friend (2) of the Israelites. He even slew an Egyptian when he saw him illtreating a Hebrew. Notes: (1) He left. He left the king’s court when he was forty years old. (2) A friend. And did what he could to defend them against the oppression of the Egyptians.
The king, hearing this, sought to kill him; but Moses fled to the land of Madian [Midian] (3). On his way he sat down by a well, and behold, the seven daughters of Jethro, a priest, came to draw water for their flocks. But when the sheep stood near the troughs, some shepherds rushed in and rudely drove away the flocks. Thereupon Moses arose, defended the maidens, and watered their sheep. Notes: (3) Madian [Midian]. This land was in the neighbourhood of Mount Sinai. The inhabitants of this district were descended from Abraham, and had kept their faith in the true God. It is well to distinguish between them and the heathen Madianites, who lived further east.
Then the sisters went home, and their father asked: “Why have ye returned sooner than usual?” They answered: “A man of Egypt drove away the shepherds, and gave our sheep to drink.” Jethro asked again: “Where is he? Call him that he may eat bread.” So Moses entered the house and swore to dwell with Jethro to keep his sheep, and remained for forty years (4), and married Sephora [Zipporah] one of the daughters of Jethro. Notes: (4) Forty years. During that time Moses lived a simple and solitary life. He prayed fervently to God, especially for the deliverance of his people; he practised humility and self-denial, and learnt the ways of the wilderness, thus preparing himself for his calling.
WHAT WE LEARN FROM THIS TEXT
Steadfast faith. Moses, while living at home with his parents, had been taught to believe in the true God and the promised Redeemer. When he left home, he went to live at the king’s court, and was surrounded on all sides by pagans. Still he preserved the true faith taught to him as a boy, and remained firm in the worship of the one true God. When he was a man, he preferred to be poor and persecuted, rather than rich and honoured, and unable to help his brethren in the faith. He therefore left the pagan court, and joined his oppressed countrymen.
The blessings of solitude. It was in his solitude that God appeared to Moses. God is to be found, not in the turmoil of the world, but in solitude. There He speaks to our hearts, and there we can speak to Him. He who is always in society, must be distracted, and cannot pray well. All the Saints loved solitude, and sought it out, so that they might be alone with God. St. Bernard praised it in these words: “O blessed solitude! O solitary blessedness!”
Moses a type of Christ. Moses, despising the splendour of Egypt in order to comfort the Jews, is a figure of the Son of God, who came down from heaven, was born in a stable, and laid in a manger, to redeem us from the flames of hell.
O, may you, when you grow up, be as steadfast in faith as Moses was, and never forget or deny that Christian teaching, which you are now receiving in your youth. Pray for steadfastness and perseverance in the holy Catholic faith!
Cannot you sometimes contrive to be alone for a few minutes, imitating in this St. Aloysius, who used to retire into some corner of his father’s house, so as to be able to pray undisturbed?