Advent: Week 2 Day 3
The Burning Bush
What? Obviously, this picture ought to come BEFORE the Passover/Exodus. I must have gotten them out of order. Well, that's OK, we'll fix it when we put them up put next year.
High up on a mountain, Moses sees something very strange: a bush on fire - but the bush is not consumed by the fire! Then he hears the voice:
"Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. ... I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob."
(And in our gospel-tuned minds, we hear that Carpenter's Son, demolishing the famous "seven brothers" riddle of the Sadducees: "And as for the resurrection, He is NOT the God of the dead, but the God of the living! You are very much mistaken.")
Behold! Here is a great revelation: Not "I was the God..." but "I amthe God..." Sure, there's a pun, as God knows exactly what Moses is about to ask ("When they ask, who sent me, what am I to tell them?") And God is setting up the most amazing joke of all, as he blows away all the silly philosophers (like Hamlet) who dabble in the discussion of non-being. ("Tell them, 'I AM' sent you.") And some three thousand years later, there still are philosophers who don't get the joke. Oh, you're bothered by my bringing up jokes at such a serious moment? Too bad. Here's Chesterton on that:
...we shall never understand the French until we understand that this wit of theirs is not mere wit, as we mean the word. In fact, this can be very simply seen by noticing the connotation of the word for wit in the two languages. What we call wit they callesprit - spirit. When they want to call a man witty, they call himspirituel. They actually use the same word for wit which they use for the Holy Ghost.
Ahem! To resume:
[GKC Lunacy and Letters 84]
We should here recall that some other writer (I forget whom) hints that the bush-that-burns-without-being-consumed is a "type" for Mary, who would conceive and bear a son while remaining a virgin. Of course there are other connections which I am sure will not be lost on those who are following our little Jesse-stations through Advent.
First, the one God Himself hints at: Abraham and Isaac! (Go back and look for that picture.) But here, we see the Sacrifice-Who-Is-Also-The-Priest - for the Bush and the Fire are one, as they will be on Calvary.
There is also the prefiguring of the Pillar of Fire (now we see my mixup has been fortuitous!) which will lead the Israelites through the night away from Egypt: here Moses sees, as it were, the flames of all the centuries of Paschal candles: the Light Eternal Who is God (as John wrote in the first chapter of his Gospel, and as we declare in the Creed: "God from God, light from light, true God from true God") yet also physical light (Yes: E = hn - the first of all created beings - see the first of these images!) It was the light of the bush, after all, which beckoned to Moses, demonstrating light as a fundamental means of communication (Shall we not then add: "Fiber optics and lasers, praise the Lord, give glory and eternal praise to Him.")
But we also see the Tree: the wood of man's defeat shall become the Cross of victory. [See the Preface of the Holy Cross] Do you know that the devils in Hell fear the Cross? It was the sign of their defeat. And look! How strange. There it is, on our computer keyboards! Will someone someday protest as they did about its appearance on the soles of hiking boots? Will they also try to depose the ampersand which holds the same allusion (a fancy script of the Latin et = "and"), and perhaps one day the letter "T" itself? But how strange is the mystery alluded to by these symbols, for the plus-sign which unites in addition is indeed a token of the Cross, which links again heaven to earth - that mightiest of all bridges. It was without doubt an inspired wisdom of Pagan Rome that gave their high priest the name "Pontifex Maximus" - the Greatest Bridge-Builder". (And now this is a title of the Pope.)
Finally, with this talk of the bridge (a burning bridge?) it calls to my mind Jacob's Ladder, but seen, as it were, head-on, so that not the passageway, but its destination, is made visible.