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Moses continues with his list of exhortations and examples of dos-and-don’ts to the children of Israel as they await the time of their entrance into the “promised land”. The instructions range from broad ones such as not bearing enmity to the Edomites and the Egyptians, to very specific and detailed ones on personal hygiene and marital relations.
While many of these laws are archaic and no longer practiced even by the most orthodox of Jewish people, it is still quite fascinating an account of the degree of detail that the Law embodied.
13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.”These are Jesus’ words to the towns and cities that willfully choose to reject his preachings.
It is indeed a sad day when a curse such as that is levied upon any people. And there is no mincing of words here. It is clear and it is direct.
The messenger was the message himself, and he preached and performed inconceivable miracles to the people, but alas, the people did not care to listen. Jesus tells his disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
We also encounter in this passage the famous parable of the Good Samaritan. The man who comes to ask Jesus the question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” knows the answers well, and it is to his credit that he not only asks the right and relevant questions, but also offers the right and relevant answers when Jesus replies by counter-questioning him.
Most of the teachers of the law that we have encountered in the gospels were unlike this man—the Pharisees and the Saducees that we know of were the kind who might have answered those questions differently. It is likely that they might have got caught up in all the various minutiae of the law—the kind that we read about in the passage in the book of Deuteronomy today. But this teacher of the law answers clearly when asked about his interpretation of the Law.
He says in response to his own initial question of how he might inherit eternal life: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Furthermore, he goes on to correctly identify the identity of the “neighbor” in the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus poses to him.
Turning next to the Psalms, we find David’s psalm for the day is an interesting one that is an affirmation of God’s ultimate powers over the universe. To preserve and to destroy is the prerogative of the Almighty, and yet there is an understanding of a correlation of just rewards to the righteous and the wicked. May it be that we are also aware of which camp we fall under.
Finally, a verse from the Book of Proverbs which offers food for thought. Solomon, wise king of Israel says:
14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
and the work of their hands brings them reward.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.