Two inspirational movies made a powerful impression on me in my youth: The Passion of the Christ and The Prince of Egypt. I saw Passion first; the following year I found myself a student in Mrs. Yoffee’s 6th grade history class. It was my first year of middle school and one of our studied figures that school year focused on God’s chosen intermediary – Moses.
I still remember my emotions as if they were yesterday; even now I can visualize the exact seat where I sat in the classroom between two students in the very front row. It was a Friday and Mrs. Yoffee began The Prince of Egypt movie. We had only made it half way through the movie when she said we would have to wait until Monday to finish it. I immediately knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through the weekend without seeing the outcome! I had sensed a profound fascination to this prophet; I realize now God used him to draw me into a life of holiness even at that tender age. My mom had a habit of going to Blockbuster Video on Friday nights and as it was fittingly Friday, we walked through the doors and I immediately searched for the film I was determined to finish before Monday’s history class. God was definitely on my side that particular night and way ahead of me!
While at home, I must have watched the rented movie at least four times before the weekend was over. I committed my favorite scenes to memory and as a result was scolded the following day on Monday when at the end of the film, I recited aloud one of Moses’ lines – before he had a chance to say it! My fellow classmate, Matthew Wheeler sitting next to me, immediately shot up his hand and said “Mrs. Yoffee, she’s spoiling the movie!” I try not to be one of those people who talks during movies and ruins such glorious scenes, but this film truly changed my life. I don’t think I was ever really the same after watching it; awakened in my soul was an exciting and intense love for God I never knew possible. Also revealed to me was the discovery of the love God refuses to hold back if you love Him without limits! A specific scene that touched me beyond belief was one that I was barely able to get through emotionally and I was thankful NOT to be in a classroom at that time!
It was the scene where Moses was tending to his father- in-law’s flock and one of the sheep goes astray; he climbs Mount Horeb and finds himself in a completely secluded area with a burning bush – a bush that continuously burns, but miraculously is never consumed. When the voice of God is heard to whisper: “Moses, Moses, Moses”, something was stirred and awakened in my own heart; a mighty call. My tears flowed profusely as I saw Our Lord’s ardent and passionate love revealed through fire, fill Moses’ entire being. I saw God as such a Father in that moment. He chastised Moses for being doubtful and for questioning such a task as freeing His people to someone as himself. However, like a loving parent who rebukes his or her child, Our Lord immediately reaches out to Moses and fills him with Himself. What more can we weak children of God hope for? Our only reason for living and breathing is to be entirely consumed by Our Lord’s love.
Without God, what is love? He is love; everything in life following this scene made earthly standards of love look weak to me! The bush is such a beautiful analogy of what Christ can do to our own hearts if we let Him. God’s love burns in our hearts, but never consumes or destroys this vital organ. Imagine a rock being cast into a furnace, the material naturally allows the rock to never burn away or change form; it simply burns continuously. There seems to be three types of fire: the eternal fire in hell that fills a soul with pain and anguish, the fire in purgatory that purifies a soul not yet ready to see God, AND the eternal fire in heaven – a fire that fills the soul with love of God! Is this that same fire Moses saw? It’s hard for our minds to fathom a bush being able to burn without wilting, yet THIS is the power of God’s love. He mysteriously and utterly transforms our interior from moment to moment through fire. However, not only is this a supernatural and divine fire – it is a gift! In a few of my posts I have spoken about how Our Lord reveals mighty secrets on mountain tops. Ezekiel also witnessed something akin to the cloud of fire. Hebrews 12:29 declares that God is a “consuming fire.”
Somehow, fire seems to be God’s identity in a very mysterious sense; He reveals this truth only to a select few. Our Lord manifests this part of His identity to souls destined to scale the mountain where God awaits and God alone. Our Lord revealed to Moses on Mount Horeb His identity in two ways: fire, as mentioned above; a fire that burns but does not consume and His very Name – “I Am that I Am.” Moses received the Ten Commandments on a mountain; on that same summit God was seen descending in a cloud of fire on Mount Sinai to accept Elijah’s sacrifice. Later, Elijah sees the glorious foot of Our Lady rising from the sea while on Mount Carmel. Let us not forget Our Lord’s Transfiguration when Christ called His three closest Apostles of the Church and revealed His inner secrets on top of the Mount. Who appeared alongside of Him? None other than two of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament who found God in solitude and seclusion: Moses and Elijah.
I learned a great deal from Moses through this film and it only helped me to see Our Lord’s invitation to me, now all these years later. What do we know about the symbol of the mountain? We know one thing; it is a place of isolation, secrecy and concealment. It also allows us to see things from a higher view, such great heights allows us to get a glimpse of how God sees what we perhaps do not see on ground level. Whenever Our Lord chooses a prophet, it’s crucial that the one called passes on the message and understands it from God’s point of view, from a summit. Wisdom, the greatest gift of the Holy Ghost is closely linked to the gift of understanding; such gifts come from clearly being able to hear God’s voice. Many of our great Church Fathers (particularly the Desert Fathers) thought there was no greater gift from God than to be called to leave the world and find God in the desert where he could serve God alone and hear His sweet voice without distraction.
Ah, and such a misunderstood “wasteful” calling. Is it though? I can’t think of a more beneficial way to hear God’s voice than in a place of silence. Why else do we go on retreats? To HEAR God’s voice which often first comes in a whisper; such are the ways of Our God. Let me end with an example on the power of prayer. The power of ONE man’s prayer. Remember when Joshua was called to war and Moses chose a place of solitude to pray for his victory? Moses came to realize that when his arms were extended high in prayer Joshua and his men were triumphant in battle, but when his arms were lowered, (even a little) they began suffering defeat. Joshua understood the mighty influence Moses had before God so well that he sent a few of his men to help hold up Moses’ arms. Let us like Moses, live only for the sole purpose and pure love of God. We too can have the ability to soften Christ’s Heart and avert His justice which mankind so very much deserves in this great era of sin.
The term prophet has many definitions, but let us remember the one that can best be fulfilled by each and everyone of us: friend of God.