While God’s holiness reminds us that God is altogether
unlike creation, it also denotes the ways in which God
draws near to creation in order to bring healing and renewal.
When we speak of holy Eucharist or holy ground or the holy
mountain of God, we affirm that God draws near to us in all
these places. Our God is incomparable! God chooses to draw
near to creation in order to bring healing and renewal.
One way God draws near comes through the provision of
God’s law. Too often, we Christians view the law in a negative
way. We draw false contrasts between the law and the gospel,
forgetting that Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to perfect
it. (See Matthew 5:17.)
In today’s reading, the psalmist speaks of delighting in the
law of the Lord. The law, we are told, is life-giving. It brings
renewal and healing to human life. Rather than fear or resent
God’s law, we celebrate it and long for it. When we do, the law
of the Lord has the power to revive us and make us whole.
If we do not get all warm and fuzzy over the idea of longing
for the law of God, then it is most likely because we fail to
recall that God’s law is an instance of God’s holiness. The law
of the Lord goes far beyond a static or abstract set of rules that
we must follow. The law represents God’s life-giving presence
and power in our midst. Indeed, we would do well to think of
God’s law in the same way we think of the sacraments. When
we meditate on the law of the Lord, we draw near to the One
who draws near to us in order to heal and to save us!
Gracious Lord, help us to delight in your law and not to fear it. May we long to encounter your healing presence in the law just as we long to encounter you in the meal that bears your name. Through your word and sacrament alike, revive us, O Lord! Amen.
These texts evidence relentless concern with the moral requirements that belong to life with the God of the Bible. They assume the foundation of covenantal law in God’s rescuing acts. That foundation is implicit in undergirding these several treatments of God’s commands. The psalmist is aware that the commands of God constitute a radical counter-obedi- ence. The text from Leviticus brings us to the core claims of cov- enantal law. The rule of the God of Israel leads directly to focus on the neighbor. The neighbor is not just an inconvenience or an intrusion but is the stuff of moral awareness. Paul’s admonitions to the Corinthian Christians state the bold claim that Jesus Christ is the central focus of every Christian’s commitment. The Gospel reading invites the community to reflect on, imagine, and devise extra measures of neighbor love that reflect the character of God.
• Read Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18. What would be some signs that you are attaining the holiness God desires?
• Read Psalm 119:33-40. The writer states that “Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to perfect it.” How did/does Jesus do that?
• Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23. Consider how these two statements relate to your life: “We do not have to be morally perfect before God will dwell within us” and “We can be morally impure after God comes to dwell with us.”
• Read Matthew 5:38-48. What instances in your life show that you “reject the call for retaliation or revenge in favor of the higher calling of forgiveness”?
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