“And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near. And being called by him, they returned, both Aaron and the rulers of the congregation. And after that he spoke to them. And all the children of Israel came to him: and he gave them in commandment all that he had heard of the Lord in mount Sinai. And having done speaking, he put a veil upon his face. But when he went in to the Lord, and spoke with him, he took it away until he came forth, and then he spoke to the children of Israel all things that had been commanded him. And they saw that the face of Moses when he came out was horned, but he covered his face again, if at any time he spoke to them.” (Exodus 34:29-35)
Literal Sense: Moses spent forty days and forty nights on Mount Sinai speaking with the Lord and receiving the word of God. As he came down the mountain his faced radiated with the light of God as he spent 40 days in His presence. Moses gave the people God’s commandments and when he was finished he covered his face because the people were afraid to behold the glory of God, due to their sinfulness, which radiated from the face of Moses.
Allegorical Sense: As Moses spent forty days and forty nights in the desert without food and depending solely on God so did Christ spend forty days and forty nights in the desert without food depending on God the Father (Luke 4:2). As Moses delivered God’s word to the people of Israel so Christ delivered God’s word to the people of Israel by coming in the flesh, since He is the Word of God. Just as Moses had to veil Himself of God’s glory shinning through Him since the people were not ready to receive it, so it is that Christ veiled Himself in the flesh and covered the glory that shinned within Him since the people of Israel were not ready to behold His glory (Matthew 17:1-9).
Moral Sense: This passage instructs us to meditate and rely upon God’s word to strengthen and sustain us. It also instructs us to not allow personal sin to prevent us from seeing God’s glory, like the people of Israel who due to their sinfulness could not behold the glory of God reflected from the face of Moses.
Anagogical Sense: The Church, like her Savior, meditates upon God’s word and through God’s power will behold the face of God in the beatific vision.