Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 69: Deuteronomy 16-18; Psalm 58; Luke 16

Choosing whom to serve...
If reading Deuteronomy were like crossing a river, then we would be just past mid-stream this morning. It won't help us to turn around and go back to the shore we left, because it is the same distance away from us now as is the one toward which we are heading. This has not been an easy crossing, so far. Moses' sermon to the people of Israel has been a strong and provocative challenge to them: that they reaffirm their faith in God and fidelity to Covenant as they enter into the Promised Land. Deliverance from Egypt and the sojourn in the desert is proving to be just the prelude to life for Israel as it will be lived (or rather, as it should be lived) in the land that God is giving them.

Today's readings highlight two of the most challenging aspects of the Law. In an increasingly cosmopolitan world (funny how the world is always becoming more cosmopolitan!), God's call to Israel is to NOT follow after other Gods and NOT to get embroiled and entangled in other cultures and practices that will distract them from what God intends. The great sins are a lack of commitment to the Law, indulgence in idolatry and finally a willingness to embrace the ways of the world over the ways of God. What is lacking, and seems to show up only once in a while in Moses' sermon, is a call to justice that reminds Israel that a call to submission to the Law means willingness to fall in love with God, and with God's justice: to remember the poor, the immigrant, the disenfranchised in society. It is there, yes; but felt more as an odd eddy in the current of the river that is Deuteronomy.

The parable of Lazarus and the rich man.
Jesus ramps up that connection between the love of God and a concurrent love of justice. He continues to tangle with the Pharisees in Luke, and in today's reading contends with an all too human love of money (and the power to shield ourselves from the world that comes with it). The parable of the rich man and Lazarus, when held up against the first teaching from this chapter oftimes called the parable of the "shrewd steward." Both teachings showcase that power exercised in the absence of justice shatters our relationships, primarily with God, but also with our neighbor. It seems simple to say that the fruits of faith in and fidelity to God are seen in a rising quotient of justice in the present, in our human society.

In a recent television campaign, one of the speakers on camera says succinctly and to the point of the Gospel today: "The opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice."

I think that from their unique perspectives on human society as they preached and taught, Moses and Jesus would both say, "Amen" to that ideal. Our task today, as always, is to remember that life in God requires of us that pursuit of justice and a willingness to turn from the distractions that wealth too often offers.

1 comment:

  1. Bryan stevenson is an interesting speaker and unfortunately in society such a discrepancy between the have and have nots especially in healhcare and other arenas. Yes, amen to those who strive to pursue justice. See you tomorrow