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September 4, 2013

Holy Prophet Moses as a Model for our Lives

Holy Prophet Moses (Feast Day - September 4)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

He was born in Egypt in an era in which the killing of every male Hebrew child was legislated. He lived, because God willed it so. In order to save him from death, his mother lay him in a basket, which she smeared with tar to prevent it from sinking, and she left it in the river. There he was found by Pharaoh's daughter, and because his cheerful face made an impression on her, she wanted to adopt him so she gave him to a Hebrew woman in order to raise him. God allowed the events to take place so that the child was brought back into his mother's embrace and he was breastfed with his mother's milk. When he grew up, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He despised riches, sinful pleasures and false human glory and preferred to dwell with the people of God.

In the desert God showed him the miracle of the flaming and unburnt bush, where He revealed Himself as "He Who Is", and then He invited him to be the leader of His people to lead them out of Egypt, the land of bondage, to the promised land. Out of humility he refused because he was slow of speech, that is, he had a weak voice and was a stutterer. But God elected him because he had greater gifts, such as obedience, prayer, patience, justice, sacrificial love, etc., which make worthy a true leader.

He was the leader of a people that were "hardened and uncircumcised" and difficult to govern, that received great beneficence from God and by Moses as well, but they easily forgot His beneficence and very often they turned against His beneficence. But whenever the people grumbled and grew agitated, Moses tried to assuage their anger with false promises. He did not even seek "reasonable solutions", but he would turn to God and with fiery prayer he would ask Him for the solution. And God always directed him at the right moment giving a proper solution to the problem. The prayer of Moses was powerful, fiery, because it was done with purity of heart, pain of soul and love for the people. Although outwardly he could not be heard, he would go up before God shouting, which forced God to ask Him: "Why are you shouting out to me?" Such power he had.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa calls him the prototype of virtue and the perfect life. Responding to a spiritual child who asked him in a letter to write about the perfect life, Saint Gregory describes and then analyzes the life of the Prophet Moses. He calls him "God-seer", because he was made worthy to see God. For, according to the command of God, after he fasted for forty days and went up to Mount Sinai, he saw the glory of God and received the plates of the "God-written Law". According to the biblical description, he saw the back of God and not His face, which means he shared in the uncreated energies of God and not His uncreated essence. The Saints do not share in the uncreated essence of God, but in His uncreated energies. We could say that something similar occurs with created things, such as the sun; every day we share in its energies, either as light, heat, etc., but never in its essence, which is impossible.

He further writes that Moses was great and continuously becoming greater and his ascent had no end, since perfection has no end, which is why the Fathers call it unending.

"The great Moses, as he was becoming ever greater, at no time stopped in his ascent, nor did he set a limit for himself in his upward course. Once having set foot on the ladder which God set up (as Jacob says), he continually climbed to the step above and never ceased to rise higher, because he always found a step higher than the one he had attained."

"He denied the specious kinship with the Egyptian queen. He avenged the Hebrew. He chose the desert way of life where there was no human being to disturb him. In himself he shepherded a flock of tame animals. He saw the brilliance of the light. Unencumbered, having taken off his sandals, he made his approach to the light. He brought his kinsmen and countrymen out to freedom. He saw the enemy drowning in the sea."

"What do we learn from all of this? To look towards an end to our lives, so that with the works of our lives we may be called servants of God... To consider the only thing fearful to be to fall from friendship with God, and to consider it our only treasure and desire to become friends of God, something which is, according to my word, perfection of life."

At Tabor, the Mountain of the Transfiguration of Christ, he was present along with the Prophet Elijah, and this happened, according to the sacred hymnographer, in order to make apparent that the God-man Christ "rules the living and the dead".

The Prophet Moses is a prototype of faith ("Moses was great in faith"), free obedience, fiery prayer, justice and selfless love. He was and remains the prototype of a true leader, and a leader from the Egyptian slavery of the passions in our current life, to real freedom, the freedom of the children of God.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΜΩΫΣΗΣ Ο ΘΕΟΠΤΗΣ", September 2000. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.