Fr. John Denburger, OCSO
3rd Wednesday of Lent
Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5 – 9; Ps 147; Matthew 5: 17 – 19
The author of Deuteronomy would have us think that Moses addressed the people right before they crossed the Jordan into the longed-for Promised Land; actually they had already crossed the river, were well situated in the land and Moses was long since dead. The people needed to be encouraged, called to their special relationship with God…challenged to live as His people. There was the ever-present danger of falling into the pagan practices surrounding them; there was the reality of treating the Covenant cheaply or even disregarding it. Temptations without and within abounded.
There is a strong element of passion all through the chapters of the book. We hear the very strong passion of God for His people and there is a call, through the person of Moses, to have a living passion for God. What else does it mean to be “His people.”
Through the passage we heard, actually all through Deuteronomy, there is the voice of Moses, a voice of passion, ardor, zeal. In the last part of today’s reading, the exhortation is so strong: “…take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which you own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”
In these days of Lent, these days of renewed repentance and growth in belief, the message of Deuteronomy is always valid and extremely necessary as we respond to the ardor of God for us, for each one of us. In this Holy Mass we are receiving God’s passion and in a most unmistakable way at Holy Communion see and taste this divine reality.
Through the voice of Moses, a voice of zeal, God’s people are summoned to a profound response. Moses, our ancestor in faith, calls us as well Israel to a living reverence of our God who is love, love beyond all telling.
To respond with passion to God is our life. In Psalm 51, the psalmist describes such passion: spirit of steadfastness, a spirit of willingness and the spirit of a pure heart. In our rule St. Benedict names this “good zeal.”
Our God is ready to grant us this. Are we, you and I, desirous of receiving? In prayer, what do we seek, really?