Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38
Psalm 84:3-6, 8, 11
Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Optional Memorial)
Moses did exactly as the Lord had commanded. (Exodus 40:16)
When their children are young, parents need to explain to them how to do just about everything. But as the children mature, their parents are more comfortable giving them greater freedom and fewer explicit instructions. Commands like “Don’t cross the street” become instinctual. The phrase “Say you’re sorry to your brother” becomes less necessary—or at least that’s what parents hope for!
So it may seem odd that today’s first reading repeats the observation that Moses did everything “exactly as the Lord had commanded” (Exodus 40:16). These are adults we’re talking about here! Why does God have to give them such detailed instructions? Why tell Moses precisely how to organize worship and guide the people in the forms of cloud and fire?
Remember that the Israelites were still young in their faith at this point—they hadn’t even entered the Promised Land! Not to mention, they had just recently fashioned a golden calf and worshipped it. They still needed clean boundaries so that they could become more fully the people that God called them to be.
Sometimes, we might wish that God would speak to us as specifically as he spoke to the Israelites. We want to be told exactly what to do and what not to do. Yes, sometimes he makes it very clear what he wants, but there are so many other times when he leaves us to make our best call. He gives us his Spirit to nudge us, his commandments to establish boundaries, and the Church to guide us. But in the end, he asks us to use the gift of our conscience as we try to discern the course of action that will most give him glory.
God doesn’t want to keep us on a short leash, dictating our every action. He wants us to step into the freedom of his sons and daughters. So don’t worry if you don’t “hear” him all the time. Instead, make your best decision, step out in faith, and ask his Spirit to guide you. Over time, you’ll find yourself growing more and more mature as your will naturally lines up with his.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for the double gift of your Holy Spirit and my free will. Guide me today as I step out in faith.”~WAU