When Moses had finished speaking with [the people], he put a veil on his face, but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with [God], he would take the veil off until he came out. - Exodus 34:33-34a (NRSV)
What a great passage for All Hallows Eve (aka Halloween)! On a day when people of all ages put on all kinds of masks, the lectionary gives us a story from Exodus about a veil (aka mask). After his encounter with the Almighty on Sinai, Moses’ face shone so brightly it scared his brother Aaron and the people, so he wore a veil so they wouldn’t be frightened of his glory and power.
But isn’t scaring the bejeezus out of others part of the fun of masks—devil masks, tiger masks, walking dead masks? And don’t we use masks to make ourselves into glorious superheroes, like Antman or Wonder Woman?
I wonder if part of Moses wanted everyone to see his bright face and know about his special relationship with God. That would have squelched some of the constant murmurings against him. Moreover, Moses knew the privilege that comes with power. He’d grown up under cover in Pharoah’s house.
This time, Moses made a different choice. He covered his face—and his power—so he wouldn’t scare the people. He wore a mask to protect others. A good story not only for Halloween, but for our continuing “corona-time,” too.
Finally, one more nugget in this story: According to Exodus, when Moses was with the people, he covered his face, but whenever he went in to speak with God, he took the veil off.
Let’s just sit with that line for a while, okay?
Thank you, God, for this story today—and every day. Amen.