"Why are you crying out to me?" All through the Scriptures, our Lord invites us to call unto Him; however, it appears here that God is rebuking Moses. What is going on? Just to get a perspective of what is going on in our passage from Exodus, let us imagine for a moment that there is going to be an exodus of the population of San Jose, California, which has, more or less, a million people. This exodus is going to take place on foot, with no telephones or other modern conveniences. There would have to be some sort of organization, some sort of leadership. You cannot have a million people led by one person only. He would not be able to communicate with a million people. The people would have to be organized, for example, by communities, with appointed leaders. These leaders would report to the Commander, receive word, and relay that word to their people. I think this was probably the type of thing going on during the Exodus out of Egypt.
"And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord." Most commentaries say that they prayed to the Lord. I think they were too terrified to pray. I think that, when many people become panic-stricken, terrified, they cry out in fear, forgetting to pray. This is, perhaps, what is going on. Poor Moses is so busy trying to reassure the leaders, to get the leaders to calm their people down, to trust God. There is a possibility that even Moses does not have time to pray. Everything is chaotic. Many commentators say that Moses must have been praying--whether verbal or silent--and that God answers his prayer. I think they say this because the "you" in Verse 15 is singular. Perhaps he did; perhaps he didn't. Everything was chaotic, a lot of blame going on; perhaps the people were on the verge of a stampede because of their fear.
If God had told Moses that he, Moses, was going to hold his staff over the waters, that the waters were going to part, and that the people were going to walk through, on dry lad, then I could easily go along. However, we are led to believe that Moses knows nothing of this. Why would God say, "Why are you crying out to Me?" Can you not hear the thoughts rattling in Moses' head: "Uhh, God, do you see what's going on here? I need help. I'm trying to do what You tell me, but everything is out of control. That is why I am crying out! I cannot control a million people by myself!" That is probably what I would be thinking if I was Moses.
Now, God is viewing the Israelites as a body, with Moses as the head--a type of Christ and His Church. Whatever the people are doing, Moses is doing--albeit he was doing nothing wrong--because he is one of them, the head. This is a picture of Jesus and the Catholic Church. In the Incarnation, Jesus, the Son of God, becomes man. Man has fallen. Jesus has taken on the body of fallen humanity although He has no sin, commits no sin. Fallen humanity must die because it rebelled against Life, separated itself from Life. This is why Jesus had to undergo His Passion and death.
Moses must be considered as one of the rebelling Israelites in this passage because this is prophetic of Christ and His Church. Moses was the head; therefore, he was just as guilty--although he did not commit the sin. The head of the body holds the illnesses of the entire body, even if the illness is not in the head. In like fashion, Christ is the Catholic Church, because the Church is His Body. Notwithstanding the fact that the complaints of the people are directed towards Moses, God views the complaints as being directed towards Himself because Moses is His appointed servant. Because Moses is the leader, the head, although the complaints are from the people, God views them as coming from Moses himself also. Therefore, God says, "Why do you, Moses, cry out unto Me?"
In the Psalms, we read of the psalmist crying out because of his sins. Once again, Jesus had no sin, committed no sin; nevertheless, because He had become human, He cried out, holding out our sins as His. God heard the cries of the Israelites, though they were without faith. Because of Moses--because he did not sin in this--God told Moses to tell them to move forward. God also hears our cries, albeit we being of little faith. Because of Jesus--because He has no sin--the Father tells Him to have us move forward, not because of who we are but because of who He is. Our crying out for removal of all our sins are the cries of Jesus, our Head. Because of our faith, given to us by Christ, because Christ holds them out as His cries, will we not be heard? "Why are You, Jesus, crying out unto Me?" "Father, for the salvation of the people You have given Me!"