Looking Back, Looking Forward

Deuteronomy 34: 1-12

“Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled…”

The Lord took Moses right up to the Promised Land. Moses saw it with his eyes, but after years of wandering in the wilderness, he would never walk there. Israel’s greatest prophet, the one who led the people through the sea to freedom, died on the Plains of Moab, just short of the promise. It was according to God’s will.

At his death, the people wept and mourned and the scripture offers a glowing eulogy for the prophet who was unequaled. Moses’ life, his faithfulness and his struggles, and Moses’ death, and his unrealized hope, beg the question.

What does God intend for us? 

Will we see the Promised Land? We would not dare to compare ourselves to Moses, and yet, we have sought, imperfectly, and in our own ways, to join God’s work of liberation. We would be faithful prophets too.

From today’s vantage point, we would dare to look back on our lives and say that we tried to make a difference. From today’s vantage point, we would look ahead and dream of a land flowing with milk and honey, and dripping with freedom and justice. We would hope to see God’s promises with more than our eyes. We would hope to taste the goodness for ourselves and to run through fields of joy. We would hope that someday we could say we had arrived.

That’s the paradox of faith, of course. We have already arrived and we will arrive one day.  Moses did not get the short end of the stick and we will not either, no matter how God intends to use us today and in the days to come.

Saint Catherine of Siena understood this. May we as well.

The path to heaven lies through heaven,

and all the way to heaven is heaven.




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