intimate trust and love. They knew one another. That’s why, when faced with God’s wrath, Moses doesn’t shrink away but he boldly places all this faith in God. He tells God to remember His servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel and how He swore to them by His own self. Moses goes right to God’s revelation to the patriarchs and holds God accountable to His promises. He knows that God is trustworthy. The power of Moses’ prayer does not come from Moses, but from God’s faithfulness to His promises.
The Latin etymology of sacrament is to swear an oath. In the sacraments God is swearing an oath to us. By dying with Christ in His baptism, we can lay claim to Christ’s resurrection (Rom 6:4). By eating Christ’s body and drinking His blood, we have Jesus’ own pledge that we will have eternal life (Jn 6:51). God has promised us in these oaths something greater than the holy land in Israel. He has promised us Heaven. He has promised us salvation from our sins and divine son-ship. He has promised us the power to enjoy the freedom being children of God.
Like Moses, we need to approach God with confidence in His oaths to save us. Because of God’s free offering to us, we can demand from God our inheritance. He has pledged his divine life to us, and we can claim it. But claim it for good. Don’t use your freedom by squandering it on prostitutes like the prodigal son. As St. Paul says, “Do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness (Rom 6:13). Use grace to abound in faith and love.
Do not be concerned that you have fallen too far away from God’s mercy to pray like Moses. St. Paul, in the second reading points to himself as an example of God’s mercy. He says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.” If Jesus can transform Paul who was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and arrogant, why can’t Jesus change your life? Jesus is like the father welcoming home the prodigal son. At the first sign of repentance, he will run out to His lost son and welcome him back.
When faced with temptation, do not despair. Have hope. Cry out to God for the help that He has promised and don’t stop praying for it until He has put the temptation to death. Whether it takes 5 minutes or an hour, God will come to save you. And if you fall, you haven’t lost the war. God has sworn an oath that He will save you in the sacrament of confession. All that can keep you from receiving God’s mercy is despair. When faced with death and the wrath of God, remind God of the oaths He has sworn to you.