And he said,
Draw not near here: put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.
Read Chapter 3
Ambrose of Milan
Stand firm in your hearts lest someone should overtake you or anyone would overturn you. The apostle taught us what it means to stand—that is, what was said to Moses: “The place upon which you stand is holy ground.” Now no one stands except the one who stands by faith, he who is firmly fixed by the determination of his heart.
Pass by like Moses, that you may see the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob and that you may see a great vision. This is a great vision, but if you wish to see it, remove the sandals from your feet, remove every bond of iniquity, remove the bonds of the world, leave behind the sandals which are earthly. Likewise Jesus sent the apostles without sandals, without money, gold and silver, so that they would not carry earthly things with them. For the man who seeks the good is praised not for his sandals but for the swiftness and grace of his feet, as Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” Therefore remove the sandals from your feet, that they may be beautiful for preaching the gospel.
Such was Moses, to whom it was said, “Remove the sandals from your feet,” so that when he was about to call the people to the kingdom of God he might first put aside the garments of the flesh and might walk with his spirit and the footstep of his mind naked. Isaac, or The Soul
For it is said to Moses when he was desiring to draw nearer: “Put off your shoes from your feet,” how much more must we free the feet of our soul from the bonds of the body and clear our steps from all connection with this world. .
What are the shoes? Well, what are the shoes we wear? Leather from dead animals. The hides of dead animals are what we protect our feet with. So what are we being ordered to do? To give up dead works. This is symbolically what he instructs Moses to do in his honor, when the Lord says to him, “Take off your shoes. For the place you are standing in is holy ground.” There’s no holier ground than the church of God, is there? So as we stand in it let us take off our shoes, let us give up dead works.
Finally see what the Lord said to Moses and Joshua: “Remove the strap of your shoe, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Can this be understood according to the letter, beloved brethren? How could that ground upon which they trod be holy, since doubtless it was like the rest of the earth? However, notice carefully what was said: “For the place whereon you stand is holy ground.” That is to say, Christ, whose figure you bear and of whom you seem to be a type, is holy ground. True holy ground is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ through whom everything heavenly and earthly is sanctified.
“Remove your sandals” and go trample the Egyptians. See, it is thirty years past the time of their picking. Up to this point, Moses proceeded without fear. But when he saw a sight that was more than his eyes [could bear], he hid his face out of fear of looking at God the way he looked at the angel.
If Moses, when he attempted to draw near the burning bush, was prohibited until he should remove the shoes from his feet, how should you not free yourself of every thought that is colored by passion seeing that you wish to see One who is beyond every thought and perception? Chapters on Prayer
Shoes. Juvenal, sat. 6, takes notice of this custom. Observant ubi festa mero pede sabbata reges. (Du Hamel)
The Ethiopian Christians and the Turks never enter their churches, or mosques, without putting off their shoes. The priests did the like when they entered the temple of Jerusalem, and God ordered them moreover to wash their feet and hands, Exodus xxx. 19. (Calmet)
We observe the same ceremony, out of respect for Jesus Christ, when we go to kiss the cross. Pythagoras said, "Offer sacrifice and adoration barefoot. "(Jamblic. 24.) On such occasions, we ought to have our hearts disengaged from the world. (Haydock) See Leviticus ii. 25.
He willingly shook off his royal dignity like so much dust which is stripped off by the stomping of the feet. He banished himself from human society for forty years and lived alone, focusing steadfastly in undistracted solitude on the contemplation of invisible things. After this he was illuminated by the inexpressible light and freed the lower part of his soul from the dead garment made of skin. .
And as to shoes, let him who is about to touch the holy land which the feet of God have trodden, put them off, as Moses did upon the mount, that he may bring there nothing dead; nothing to come between man and God.
The burning bush was an image of God’s mother, and when Moses was about to approach it, God said, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Now if the ground where Moses saw an image of the Theotokos is holy ground, how much more holy is the image itself? Not only is it holy, I daresay, but the holy of holies.