Below is the text of a reflection give by one of our sisters on today’s Magnificat Antiphon, which speaks of Christ appearing to Moses in the burning bush. (If you prefer to listen, click the ‘play’ button in the box below)

O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.

Today’s ‘O Antiphon’ refers to God’s coming to His people while they were living in slavery in Egypt. He reveals Himself as the ‘Holy One’, the ‘Transcendent One’ as He calls out to Moses: “Come no nearer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Yet He is not aloof from His people’s plight. He says: “I have seen the misery of my people. I have heard their cries for help – I have come down to rescue them and bring them to a land rich and broad, a country flowing with milk and honey.” (cf Ex 3:1-6)

It is this same God who approaches Mary through the Angel and asks her consent to be the mother of the “child who will be holy” (Lk1:36) and who “will save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). It is the same Holy One who is with us on our altar, under the signs of bread and wine – and the One whom we meet in the least of our sisters and brothers!

As I reflected on this antiphon, it was the image of fire and the burning bush which held my attention. Fire cannot be hidden, cannot be contained – otherwise it is extinguished. It gives light and warmth. Fire draws and consumes everything within its reach – it knows no boundaries but transforms into fire everything with which it comes in contact. It is never satisfied, for the more it consumes, the fiercer are the flames and the greater its capacity to consume more. Think of the forest fires which become uncontrollable in dry weather!

This image of fire is a very good image of our God – no wonder our innate selfishness fills us with fear of saying ‘yes’ to Him – fear that if we give Him an inch He may take a mile! “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29) – even if at times we experience this fire as darkness – while He is always drawing us into His love, so too our selfishness is being consumed in the fire of that love. Yet His message is always one of liberation – not just for ourselves but for all His people. The more we surrender to His plan for us, the more we experience true freedom.

Just as He needed Moses and Mary, so today He stands at the door of our hearts inviting us to His co-workers. Will we respond as Mary did with: “behold here I am; let it be done unto me”? Will we allow Him to possess us in such a way that we might radiate His living, loving presence in our troubled and darkened world? St Catherine said: “if you are what you are meant to be, you would set fire to the whole of Europe”.

O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.