Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Probably most of us have heard that Pope Francis has published another book. I don’t know how he does all this when he travels all around the world and is meeting with people all the time. He has this book called The Name of God is Mercy. It’s a very small book. You could read it in a couple of hours, but it would be worth taking a number of hours to read it and reflect on it because I think in a marvelous way, this book The Name of God is Mercy is really a long reflection on today’s readings.

If we listen to those readings carefully, we discover how deep and extensive, unlimited is the mercy of God. You start with the first lesson: the Chosen people had been driven out of their own land and had gone to Egypt for safety, but then had been put into slavery. For hundreds of years they were treated with cruelty. Their lives were that of slaves; it was horrendous. But now, as we heard in the first lesson, God has been watching over them all this time and loving them, wanting them to be converted and to bring them back.

mercyWe hear how God begins to do this with the call of Moses. Moses has that extraordinary, and as I mentioned before, mystical experience of God’s presence. It’s described for us in terms of a bush that is burning. It’s alight with fire, but never consumed. Moses approaches, but then God warns him, “You’re on holy ground. Be careful.” Moses bows in adoration. But then God speaks to Moses and allows Moses to know that God is looking on God’s people with mercy and love and wants to free them from their slavery.

Moses is the one who will be given that task to lead them out of Egypt. Later we learn in the Hebrew Scriptures, as with any prophet, someone called to do a very difficult task, Moses is a little bit hesitant. But God reassures him. Moses tries to stall, in a sense, by saying, “Who shall I say sent me?” He’s afraid that when he tries to go and tell the Pharaoh that the people must be freed, “Who am I? Whom shall I say is asking this?” “I am who I am.”

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