Tomorrow in the Byzantine rite is the feast day of Moses, God-seer and prophet. The Gospel is Jesus parable about the talents. In this parable the man who does nothing is cast out into utter darkness. At the end there is a proclamation that to whoever has more will be given. The man who buries his talent does not trust his master but fears him.
Moses is constantly thinking and doubting. The people Moses is leading get angry. Moses’s whole life has been dedicated to bringing them out of Egypt. They almost kill him, and he is frustrated. God commands Moses to speak to a rock and make water come out of it, but Moses strikes it. Because of this Moses is not allowed to see the promised land.
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people the law before they go into the promised land. In the middle of giving the law, he tells a story about a time he asked God if he could go into the promised land. God cut him off in mid-sentence and said no. This is a private conversation between Moses and God, and it is rather embarrassing for Moses, but he chooses to share it with the entire people of Israel.
Moses digs down deep into his own heart from that experience. He shares with the people that he is not afraid of God. He speaks to God as one might speak to a friend. He knows they are about to go into the promised land and likely will not keep the law. Even when they make mistakes, they will still be able to stand before God and to speak. A relationship with God is not easy because God is not easy. He is a hard master who reaps where he does not sow and gathers where he does not scatter.
Moses asked to see the face of God, and God said no. Moses asked to see the promised land, and God said no. The icon for tomorrow is the Transfiguration, where Moses sees both these things in a way he did not expect. When the Master came, he found a great interest of souls from his servant Moses. Moses stands on the mountain as a reminder that it is always worth it to stand before the face of God.
These reflections are taken from a homily by Father Daniel Forsythe of St. Basil’s Byzantine Catholic Church.