Genesis 3, 1-12
Have you ever done something in your younger years that you still regret? Perhaps you broke the precious vase your mother cherished because it was an heirloom. Or, you stole money from the wallet of your father. For fear that you will get caught; you do all sorts of things to cover up it up. But not just that, there are things we do and may be right, but it was done at the wrong time.
Take for example a soccer player who worked himself up for the game, and in the night prior to the sport, had broken his leg from a fight with another kid over his girlfriend. He forfeits his chance of playing, and at the same time, jeopardizes the years of hard work he’d done. Take another example of a good student, who with the lapse of judgment, got herself pregnant and was kicked out of school. These are a few things that we do without discernment.
Put yourself in Moses’ shoes. He saw a burning bush (which was not being consumed), heard Yahweh calling him, and then tells him of the cries of his people in Egypt. You already know the next line: Yahweh will likely call him back to the place that reminds him of his crime; and worse, become a leader that would require a confidence in oneself.
But his past ate whatever self-confidence he had. He saw an Egyptian maltreating a Hebrew. He got angry, and as Scripture had it, he “looked around, and seeing no one, slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” The sentence looked very simple and pretty, but if you imagine the whole scene, you get to see a murder scene at the beginning of a CSI Las Vegas episode. He hid the body on sand, hoping no one would know, but the next day, it was all over the papers. The Hebrews knew it. The Egyptians knew it. Perhaps, in his panic, he was not able to hide the dead man a few inches underground. Here is about murder and Moses’ attempts at cover-ups.
There are many ways to conceal our shameful acts. In high school, we are pretty sure that we have witnesses when someone cheats. To cover up, they would pretend they do not know, with an innocent look as that of Puss in Boots in the Shrek series. To hide their misdeeds, they would conceal the truth with a lie or a half-truth. Some would even devise a plan to erase the mischief. It is a matter of time that the truth catches up. And the sand would soon show its hidden corpse. It will not take long that we begin to feel the tug of our conscience, the pain of our guilt, and the disturbance of our hearts. For the Prince of Egypt, it means leaving the whole palace to a deserted place called Midian.
In our faith, it is not just Moses who murdered someone. We have St. Paul who persecuted the Christians and enjoyed the stoning of St. Stephen. We also have St. Macarius the Younger who murdered his father. In our archives we know the story of Augustine and Ignatius and many other saints who have sired children in their younger days and regretted their deed.
Will a dark or a sinful past hinder one to become a great leader? The answer is a great, NO!” The Lord can make a great leader out of a sinful person. The requirement is simple: Face the past and trust in God. Hiding a wrong does not erase it. It needs one to be vulnerable and accepting even if it is risky. But the more important thing is to remind ourselves what Paul said: the strength of God is shown in the very weakness of his instrument. As Paul was able to do things, not of his own, but from God’s grace. A leader must have a vision and a determined spirit. He must know where he would bring his people. But he must also have the heart. The compassionate heart that truly understands what goes inside other people’s hearts. A person who is aware of his past will understand the other person who also has it.