On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.” When Moses had told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses: “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.
As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In today’s first reading, God makes his presence so abundantly clear that it involves thunder and lightning, smoke, and a trumpet blast. God wanted there to be no doubt in the minds of the Israelites that he was there, and that he was speaking to them through Moses. How much easier our lives would be if God made his presence in our lives this obvious! We wouldn’t have any doubt as to what God was asking of us.
In the absence of lightning and a trumpet, how can we identify God’s presence in our lives? St. Ignatius gave us the Examen as a beautiful and powerful prayer tool, with the goal being to notice God’s presence in the big and little moments of our days. Who are the people and events that illuminate God working in our lives? What is God saying to us in the noise and in the silence that surrounds us?
—Jim and Lauren Gaffey. Jim is a science teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep. Lauren is the Charis Ministries Program Coordinator for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and does work for the Midwest Jesuits.
Steps of the Examen
1. Ask God for light
2. Give thanks
3. Review the day
4. Face your shortcomings
5. Look toward the day to come
—Jim Manney, A Simple Life-Changing Prayer, published by Loyola Press