Continuing these reflections upon the Scriptural bases for the 40 days of Lent, we now turn to the prayer of Moses on Mount Sinai.
Moses was herding sheep for his father-in-law when God first called him at the burning bush near Mount Sinai. See Ex. 3. God promised that, when the people were freed from slavery in Egypt, they would come back to that mountain to worship Him.
And so, after the Chosen People crossed over the Red Sea on the path to freedom, they came to Mount Sinai where heaven and earth were joined together. There, as the glory of God descended upon Sinai, an immense fire surrounded the mountain and there was a colossal earthquake, accompanied by tremendous thunder and lightning like the people had never seen. See Ex. 19.
The people kept at a distance as Moses and Joshua ascended Mount Sinai. There, during 40 days of prayer and fasting, Moses received not only the 10 Commandments, but also the wisdom and law to guide God’s people in His way. There in the heights, Moses saw the angels worshiping God in the heavenly temple, a vision upon which the earthly Temple would be based. Moses did not wish to keep the glory of God to himself.
Later, when 70 elders of Israel went with Moses to the mountain and received a share in the divine spirit, Moses said, “Would that all of the people of the Lord were prophets, that the Lord would pour forth His spirit upon them all.” See Num. 11:29. That prayer was answered at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the early Christians gathered in Jerusalem in the form of tongues of fire and a colossal wind
The descent of the Holy Spirit recalled God’s appearance on Mount Sinai, but now in a fashion open to all the faithful. That glorious event was not only one occasion almost 2000 years ago, but is renewed throughout history. For, through Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit, we can also ascend to the greater kingdom in our prayer. We receive the word of God, fulfilled in Jesus Christ, with the guidance of the Church and presence of the saints in applying His word to our lives today.
The Lenten season challenges us to set aside time and offerings to God and so make space for Him to speak to us in a way that will, if we let it, shake up our lives and the world around us and manifest the glory of God.