In many of the post-Easter readings, speakers (today Peter, Jesus) reach back into the tradition in which they are rooted in order to make sense of the fresh events. Our way of saying that is that they re-view Old Testament tradition while gripped by what they have just experienced at Easter. “He opened their minds to understand the Scripture.” A traditional expression for that is to say a later event “fulfilled” an earlier one, but I like to think that “corresponding” events fill each other fuller than they were or would be in isolation. It doesn’t happen just once and in one direction but continues to reverberate.
Moses and Jesus correspond in many ways, of which we can consider three pairs. Moses, as we know, suffered in many ways and over some forty years while dealing with those whose lives were wrapped with his; it was a price he paid in his ministry and we can see it bearing fruit in various ways. He was characterized as unique (literally, one of a kind) in his mode of communication with God. And Moses had an irregular departure, in that he slipped away without people being quite able to account for it. All three of those facets give us purchase on Jesus. And how does Jesus help us see Moses more richly? We watch Jesus praying in many ways to God for people, interceding intensely for their need as well as meeting it practically. We can see the fear, blindness, anger and consequent antipathy that Jesus generated in certain of the episodes involving Moses (e.g., when Aaron and Miriam challenge his “leadership style”); more than sociology involved, perhaps. And we watch Jesus try to show and encourage people to see how old words can in fact be embodied in fresh ways, even must be done in new ways as circumstances change. Moses helps us see Jesus more deeply, and Jesus gives us a richer angle on Moses. And together, of course, they challenge us to ponder God’s workings more sensitively. What a great Bible!
Barbara Green, O.P.