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by Gianni Gennari

We are therefore, finally - given the long journey already made previously - at a decisive point, which however is only the first, and will be followed by many others: God revealed himself to Abraham, drawing him out of his homeland of origin and making him begin a response to the promise, and in faith Abraham "believed", he left, he lived his adventure as patriarch of his people, known precisely as the patriarch of the promise...
Thus the biblical story reached Moses, to whom the new divine "presence" was revealed on the mountain, which confirmed itself and then invited him to new work: "I am with you!", and now you must free my people, which is also yours, from Egyptian servitude. Centuries of history told like this, in a few pages that express the awareness of a promise and a real journey experienced by men like us...
So finally, and still on the mountain, this new God, Yahweh, presents himself to Moses and speaks. He speaks, but Moses does not see his God, but listens to him... This characteristic is fundamental: the God of Israel is not a God who shows himself, who makes himself seen.

And this characteristic - we will see it at length - is also fundamental to our Christian faith. Moreover - but we will come back to this in more detail - at the beginning of the Gospel of John we read the clear statement: "No one has ever seen God...".
And in his first Letter John says again: "No one has ever seen God..." It will be interesting to see, as we will do at length later - but whoever reads can immediately go and see out of curiosity - how the two identical sentences have a different, but not contradictory, and demanding follow-up in two senses, which are also different, and certainly not contradictory...
Let's get back to us, and to this point. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses – we'll stop here for now, but it is the same God who will later reveal himself and be seen in Jesus – is not a God who is seen, but is a God who is heard. Fundamental, here and now, only this text from Deuteronomy (4,12) will suffice which condenses this idea: "The Lord spoke to you from the fire, you heard the sound of his words, but you did not see any image: there was only a voice! ”
So the watchword, from then on, is not "open your eyes, Israel", but "open your ears", that is, "Listen, Israel!" (Shemah, Ishrael!).
it is a radical difference from the pagan gods, who are depicted in the images of religious idols: they are seen, but they do not speak, and this has fundamental consequences.
To the gods who do not speak – the Bible calls them “silent idols” – the pagans speak, asking for what they desire, and hoping that the gods will grant them, p. e.g. they ask with myth for the explanation of natural phenomena that they do not understand, and with ritual (see what was written previously) they ask for protection from the shocking effects of events and phenomena that overwhelm them...
The God of Moses, and of the people of Abraham, the one of the promise and then of the Covenant, instead speaks. He does not reveal himself in images that are seen, but in the voice that is heard.
At this point the spontaneous question arises: why doesn't the God of Abraham and Moses reveal himself in images?
And given a certain way of thinking about God typical of ancient philosophy, the following answer comes spontaneously: God does not reveal himself in images because he is "spiritual", he is not material, and because he is "transcendent", he is not in the context of this world , below, but “in the high heavens”.
There is some truth in this answer, but it is not the exhaustive one. In fact, if you look carefully at the biblical texts, it sometimes seems that a certain "materiality" and "presence" of God is also underlined.
In the book of Genesis (3, 10) as a metaphor, Adam says that he heard the sound of God's footsteps arriving and, realizing that he was naked, he felt ashamed... In the book of Exodus (33, 20) we read that “no man can see the face of God and remain alive”, but immediately afterwards (33, 23) we read: “you will see my back, but my face cannot be seen”…
We read elsewhere that God walks as if on the tops of trees, and other suggestive images say that there is not a philosophical idea of ​​immaterial transcendence, but that of a mysterious but certain presence ("I am with you!") and of a proximity that saves…
I will not stop here to discuss the God of the philosophers, the God thought of by the wise men of history, the God of Aristotle as the immobile mover, the most perfect Being conceived precisely in the wake of Greek philosophy and demonstrated rationally with the five ways of Thomas, or with the ontological proof of Anselm of Aosta, or with the different arguments of Descartes, with the God-nature of Spinoza, with the moral requirement of Kant or with the absolute Spirit of the idealist philosophers. I say that the God revealed in Scripture and present incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth is the one that interests us here, and therefore this God, the God who reveals himself to Abraham and then to Moses is not seen, but heard.

The God who speaks:
the alliance of the “Ten Words”
And here we are immediately led to think that the Pact of the perennial Covenant, what we call the "Ten commands", in the reality of biblical language is called the "Ten words"...
In the Bible we have two versions of what we call the Ten Commandments, which are practically equivalent, and here I use the current version of our Catechism, without paying attention to the nuances of different translations from both the Hebrew and Greek of the New Testament when recalling the biblical commands to Moses.
First command: the oneness of God as opposed to idols
The first command is strongly affirmative: “I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other God to oppose me!”
And the affirmation of divine "oneness". The radically new Jewish monotheism contests all ancient polytheism, practically universal in all primitive religions, which indeed had a divinity superior to the others, e.g. e.g. the Sun God, or the Greek Jupiter or the Latin Jupiter, or something else among different peoples.
As a parenthesis, here, I like to remember that from a philosophical point of view the uniqueness of God seems absolutely necessary, and in fact Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), a great theologian, but also a Christian philosopher par excellence, when he deals with In the philosophical context, God demonstrates his uniqueness in a superlatively dry way.
It may seem like too refined a curiosity, but it is not: today we still find those who think of a pluralism of deities imagined with imagination mistaken for wise thought. Here is a summary of the thoughts of the great Thomas. Philosophers go so far as to define God as "pure Being", but pure Being can only be One.
In fact, if there were two, they would have to be different in something, but then they would no longer be 'pure Being', but pure Being with something more that makes them distinguish them, and therefore this God as pure Being can only be One.
It is also the first command, the first word of what we call the Decalogue, which really means "ten words", but as we will see in the next meeting this affirmation of the uniqueness of God who "is there" and "speaks", as opposed to every silent idol, which "is nothing", vanity and illusion, as the biblical texts often say, will open the way not to a series of abstract thoughts, but to the other biblical "nine words", which are the saving consequence, from Moses to this day, and indeed even before Moses, because the God revealed in Christ is the salvation of all humanity, even that which lived before Moses, as Benedict XVI very well mentioned recently when speaking of what we call "the descent of Jesus to Hell."
The first command, therefore. The other nine will also arrive, and then there will be much more…
With apologies for some perhaps a little difficult passages in these lines, see you next time...

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