Year B: 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 4: 1-2, 6-8
The First Reading, chosen, as is usual in Ordinary Time, to complement the Gospel takes us back to the time of Moses when the Law was being given to the people. The customs and laws which Moses gave to the people concerned hygiene, food and worship and covered most areas of their daily lives. They were at once practical and designed to set the people apart as a people whose whole way of life was lived in obedience to their God. This was not to be a religion solely of high days and festivals - but a religion which lived in people’s homes and influenced their life and decision-making.
Observance of the Law, as Moses sees it, is a high calling - one that will make the people of Israel a light to the nations. Other nations will see their wisdom and recognise that their God is near to them - interested not just in sacrifice and worship but in the day-to-day detail of their lives.
It is likely that many of the laws and customs were taken from the prevailing culture of the time but the difference now was that they were observed because they were the perceived will of God. What had simply been “good practice” now became a sign to the world - and to oneself - that one was doing this to please God. The effect of this was that a Jewish person lived their whole day in awareness of the presence and Law of God. The whole day was sanctified by doing the everyday things in ways that showed obedience to God.
Thousands of years later, this idea was re-worked by St Thérèse of Lisieux. She called it the “Little Way” and famously said that even picking up a piece of thread could give glory to God - if it were done with that intention. She well understood how a life could be a living sacrifice of praise to God - not simply because one obeys the regulations but because of the inner disposition with which things are done.
What does it mean for me?
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