Year A: 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Deuteronomy 11:18.26-28, 32
As with all Readings that offer selected verses, it can be a valuable exercise to read the sections that have been missed out.
In those sections today, the power of the Word of God - and the importance of listening to it - teaching it to children - talking about it - all these things are emphasised over and over again. The promise is that, if Israel holds firm to the Word, then she will become a great nation.
The choice the people have is laid before them in no uncertain terms - it is the difference between life and death.
If they choose to listen to the Word of God and obey its commandments - then this will lead to life and to abundant blessing. If they choose not to listen and to disobey the commandments, then a curse will be laid upon the people.
It is also made clear that this is not to be an exercise in picking and choosing the parts of the Law that feel congenial - but accepting and observing it in its entirety.
Put as a choice between life and death, it is little wonder that the people chose life - to listen - to reflect upon - and to obey the Law.
In practice, it has to be acknowledged that the good intentions of those who received the Law weren’t always fulfilled - even by them!
The Old Testament is filled with stories and images of Israel’s unfaithfulness... which speaks of an honesty and truth that is seldom found when people write about their own history! The battles won are recorded - the lavishness of the decoration of the Temple is described in minute detail - the numbers who comprised each tribe are counted and recorded. But, in amongst it all are the episodes and times when Israel fell foul of their promise to uphold the Law - and what the consequences of those choices were.
When Israel built on the rock of the Law, she prospered - when she built on the sand of “what all the other nations were doing” - she fell.
As we look at the world today, we are indebted to the honesty of the Old Testament writers who show us the choices for life and death laid before us - and the consequences of those choices.
What does it mean for me?
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