Removing the Barriers

March 24, 2019

As we follow the pathway of discovery to God’s redemptive love, we are invited to approach holy and sacred ground. In our Old Testament reading this week, Moses is out tending the flock and he is drawn into a mystery, a sight he cannot explain, an event he cannot comprehend.  He catches a glimpse of a bush, burning all alone by itself.  It is burning and it doesn’t burn out.  He is mesmerized at the reality that it doesn’t burn out, but rather it is going on perpetually and unchanging.  This makes no sense to him.  In our day and age, we have seen eternal flames in cemeteries and monuments.  The light never goes out because of an underground gas line.  We know the source of the fuel.  But in this event, in this experience, the bush burns and is not consumed by the fire and the fuel source is from within.  This sight beckons a closer look.  As he approaches, a voice speaks very clearly that this is holy ground and he is to remove his sandals.  The God of the covenant reveals Himself to Moses after the sandals are removed.

Why does God ask Moses to remove his sandals?  Because it is holy ground.  We know this is clearly stated by God  but why did God ask Moses to remove his sandals?  I have spent a lot of time reflecting on this.  I think God invited Moses to remove the barrier of the sole of the sandal so he could feel the holiness of the ground on his feet.  Holiness touches the skin on his feet.  God’s desire is to remove the barrier of the bottom of the sandal so the physical body, the flesh of Moses could touch the divine holiness of God. It is a profound gesture of God to long to remove any barriers of his holiness from physically touching our lives, our bodies and our souls.  This removal of barriers is the invitation of the third week of Lent and every day of our lives.  God longs to touch us physically;  He allows us to take His very flesh, His body and blood into our bodies.  He allows either our hand or our tongue to come into contact with the most holy experience ever, the Real Presence of Jesus Himself.  We touch Him, we consume Him.  God wants no barriers between His most holy Son and our physical bodies.  This demonstrates the magnitude of the humility of God.  It is mesmerizing, it is overwhelming, it is real.

Discovering this desire of God to remove all barriers will find us beginning the Sacred Triduum with the celebration of the liturgy of Holy Thursday.  On that night within the ritual of the universal Church, the community of faith is invited to have their feet washed.  Just as Moses was told this is sacred and holy ground, God invites us to leave any barriers at the door and become invested in the sacredness of Jesus’ example.  We are to remove our shoes and the shoes of others. We are to become the missionary disciples who wash the feet of others.  We are to show and touch the holiness God has found in each and every one of us.

This week sets the journey towards the Sacred Triduum into motion; a journey of removing barriers. Shoes are easy to remove, but prejudice, laziness, stubbornness…those are much harder.

Reverend  John J. Ouper