Our Lady and the Burning Bush: O Adonai

O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

We worship a God who turns water to blood and sweeps sea from land. He is so close that He knows our suffering (Ex 3:7) and yet is so beyond creation’s comprehension that even Sinai trembles before His presence. This marvelous Lord is the One who made that first covenant with Adam and Eve in Eden. But our parents bought into the lie that God wasn’t worthy of all their trust. So they ran into the bushes.

In response, God came to Moses in a bush, promising redemption for Israel and affirming that He was worthy of His people’s trust. From this bush, He revealed His name and sent Moses into Egypt as His forerunner. When He came down to Egypt, He put the Egyptian gods to shame, stretching out His mighty hand for the sake of Israel, His firstborn.

In return, all He asked was that Israel remain loyal to Him and that they keep His law. But the same distrust that sent Adam and Eve into hiding had been passed from generation to generation. As soon as Moses was on Sinai for too long, the Israelites turned to a golden calf for security. And oh, how they suffered for breaking the law.

It’s easy to make fun of the way that the Israelites whine in the desert, or to dismiss as historical trivia Israel’s inability to keep the Torah. But you and I are also sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. The same venom blackened our souls when we were conceived. Our first cries at birth joined with the cries of enslaved Israel.

But there was one first breath that was not fouled by the adder. There was one soul whose timing for redemption was magnificently different. The mighty Lord formed from the dust of the earth a daughter. He made her soul so pure that His Spirit could hover over the waters of her womb without any resistance.

In the fullness of time, the daughter mirrored Her Creator’s “Fiat lux” with her own song of “Fiat mihi.”1 The living flame of love rushed upon her whole being, and Mary, conceived without sin, was on fire, but not consumed.

This luminous vessel carried Love Himself inside her body for nine months. Beneath her breast, Love traveled the hill country to a town of Judah, where He entered the house of Zechariah and His Mother greeted Elizabeth. In the silent power of the womb, the divine Flame purified John the Baptist and set Him apart to be His forerunner, to tell Israel that its Savior was coming soon.

But the first time He stretched out His arm was not to send Herod flying into the waves. He stretched His tiny arms as He lay upon straw. The thunder from Sinai was replaced by a wail from a cave.

This is the mystery we will celebrate in just a few days. The Lord who hears our cries comes down to cry with us. And when we fall beneath the burden of our concupiscence, He gives us His mother. She is the burning bush who unveils our vocation with just one word of greeting and carries us back to Christ when we stray from that path. Let’s ask her intercession as we prepare for the birth of her son and Messiah.

1- “Let there be light, (Gen. 1:1)” “Let it be done unto me (Lk 1:38)”

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