A life-transforming retreat

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Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap

On Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 April I had the joy of participating in a powerful retreat organized by theŻurrieq Charismatic Group Resurrexit at Porziuncola Retreat House in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq. This year’s theme focused on a central figure in the Old Testament, namely Moses.

This year’s retreat was well-attended. About hundred people not only from Żurrieq but also from various places around the island turned out for the retreat. People are longing for Jesus Christ! People want toexperience God in their hectic and troubled lives! In the retreatants’ look I could both see and hear thepsalmist most profound and ardent desire to encounter his Lord, his God, as Psalm 63 rightly portrays: “O God, thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is” (Psalm 63:1).

The retreatants who came for the retreat all had a great wish in their heart: “to look upon [the Lord] in thesanctuary, to behold [His] power and glory” (Psalm 62:2). I strongly believe that the people’s plea was magnificently answered by the Lord in the intriguing story of Moses. This Hebrew child, who was saved fromthe cruelty of the Pharaoh, probably Rameses Miamum, who “did not know Joseph” (Exod 1:8), meaning not acknowledging his obligation to him, started to persecute the Jews. Out of fear and jealousy of them because “they multiplied and the more they spread abroad” (Exod 1:12) he oppressed them up to the point where “thePharaoh commanded all his people: ‘Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live’” (Exod 1:22).

But that was the Pharoah’s plan. In all aspects it was brutal, horrendous and oppressive. The good news is that his calculated plan was ruined by Moses birth. Ironically Moses, whose name means “drawn out of the water” (Exod 2:10) was saved from the daughter of Pharoah who “came down to bathe at the river” (Exod 2:5) and saw the bulrushes basket which contained the Hebrew child. God was already challenging the arrogant rule ofthe Pharoah by choosing his daughter to rear up his servant Moses!

Even though being raised at the Pharoah’s royal court Moses felt himself a Jew. His impulsive character made him kill an Egyptian who was “beating a Hebrew, one of his people” (Exod 1:11). At first he thought that no one was seeing him and that his murder was buried in the sand (see Exod 1:12). However when his murder was revealed he had to “fle[e] from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Mid’ian” (see Exod 2:15), in a land rich in flock, herds and camels.

It is precisely to this fearful, fugitive and murderer that God chooses to lead out his people from the terrible bondage in Egypt. God calls him by name, “out of the bush: ‘Moses, Moses!’” (Exod 3:4). In front of God thetrue Moses emerges! The Bible says: “And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God” (Exod 3:6). But God is not discouraged by our fear. Instead he is greatly moved by our trust in him. In fact Moses repliesto God: “Here am I”. Moses is there, in his fear, fugitiveness, insecurity to meet God! And God is fascinated by Moses’ openness to converse with him so much so that he entrusts him with a mission every Jewish man dreamt of fulfilling, that of liberating his fellow countrymen. “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come downto deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exod 3:7-8).

Journeying from the slavery of fear to the liberation of a joyous hope is certainly one’s heartfelt desire. We, the Żurrieq Charismatic Group, harbour that wish too! If you wish you can kindly join us every Tuesday at 7.30 pm onwards at the Żurrieq Parish Centre next to St Catherine’s Parish Church.

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