August 12, Monday: Lectionary 413: Scripture: Deuteronomy 10:12-22. Psalm 147: 12.13.14-15. 19-20. Matthew 17:22-27:
Our continued reading from Deuteronomy keeps us returning to the covenant of loving-kindness that God has made with us. It is at the heart of the messages of the Bible that are also reflected in the theme of love that we have in John’s Gospel. What John’s Gospel is for the New Testament, the Book of Deuteronomy is for the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament). Both emphasize the covenant commandments of love and loving-kindness (hesed).
We are helped by the spiral thinking around the theme of love in both books. We are not simply repeating but going higher and higher into the mystery of God’s words proclaimed by Moses and Jesus. Hesed (loving-kindness)and Agape (unconditional selfless love) resonate with each other and give us depth in the mystery of the love that is revealed in both testaments.
We are formed into the image and likeness of God and find our purpose in these biblical revelations in human words. As Moses explains in his emphasizing the covenant, one must practice love, mercy, and kindness to the stranger, the widowed, and the poor. We see the spiritual and corporal works within both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Moses’ words are the foundation for the beatitudes that Jesus preaches in his Sermon on the Mount.
The Psalm 147 is a hymn for praising and worshipping the God of the covenant. The Exodus event is remembered, the Last Supper comes to mind for the Christian reader in the context of the liturgy. We are assured that God has delivered and freed us and led us out of the desert. We thank God and grow in confident assurance of God’s fidelity. Our psalmist speaks for the entire people of God while rendering thanks while awaiting for God’s love, kindness, and mercy. We are not alone. God is with us.
In the Gospel we read of Jesus paying the tax to the Roman government. It is the temple tax. This shows that Jesus was willing to comply with this. Peter knew it when he spoke to those questioning him and it is confirmed by the miracle of finding a monetary piece which covered the amount of the tax. Jesus was not a revolutionary, nor a Zealot, nor a warrior except in the spiritual combat against evil and sin. His message was not political nor military but divine in accordance with the laws of his People. He lived out the covenant of Moses in spirit and in truth. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.