17th Thursday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38; Matthew 13:47-53
The passage from the Book of Exodus in today’s first reading portrays Moses as being in direct contact with God who provides him with detailed directions on constructing the Dwelling. We are told that it was Moses who erected the rather elaborate tent in which was placed the Ark of the Covenant. As one reflects upon this passage it comes to appear as a kind of summary account of what actually took place. This large and elaborate structure surely required a good number of workers to construct with its supporting pillars and extensive hangings. Clearly Moses was supervising the crew of workmen but was not the sole builder, though the inspired writer of this passage ascribes the construction to Moses alone. Significantly also is the fact that we are not informed as to how God conveyed His message to Moses. The sacred, unnamed writer merely state that Moses did exactly as God commanded him. The first sixteen verses of this final chapter of the Book of Exodus state that God himself spoke to Moses and gave the very specific details of the tent and its contents, though the exact measurements are nowhere provided so that we are not certain just how large this Dwelling actually was.
The intent of the author in this entire final chapter of the Book of Exodus is to make abundantly clear that God Himself directed Moses as His representative for the community of Israel, His chosen people. The Israelites obey God by following the directives of His chosen prophet, Moses.
The Gospel we have just heard contains an implicit warning. Peter who says he understood was later to fail for a time; not all members of the Church are acceptable to God, some are not to be members of His eternal Kingdom. The message to all of us is a warning to avoid complacency. Each day we stand in need of God’s mercy and grace that we live in humble obedience to His teaching which must remain in its fullness.