- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

March 22, 2017

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

3rd Wednesday in Lent
Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5 – 9; Ps 147; Matthew 5: 17 – 19

It was at the burning bush that God revealed His plan to Moses: “I have come down to rescue them (My people) and to lead them into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Ex 2: 8) And it soon became clear that this land was not just a place of freedom from slavery or a place to settle in order to raise their children or to grow the foods they missed so terribly in the desert.

Again and again God through Moses, and later on through the Prophets, will strongly emphasize that the land is holy ground where Israel is called, is graced to live in a unique relationship of obedience and worship of the God of their fathers.

In the passage from Deuteronomy Moses speaks for God: “Hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe that you may live…” – “that you may live” – notice not just survive but live – a living that is bound up in covenant to God – a relationship of intimacy, of grace, of belonging that is to mark every aspect of their lives.

There is passion in Moses’ words, words inspired by God Himself, – “observe them carefully…take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget…do not them slip from your memory…for what nation is there that has gods close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us…?” The question demands no verbal answer rather a loving response in a likewise passion of faithful obedience.

The great Origen said that all Scripture is symbolic, that is, it holds meaning for all time and in all places. Can we not say that the land where we live is holy ground? Can we not say this because it is on this land where we live our relationship of intimate faith and love with our God? Wherever we dwell, our relationship with God, our encounters with God make it sacred – a place to live with passion, with resolution graced by God.

Jesus, in His own words, proclaims Himself as the One-who-fulfills, as One who completes our lives, brings to wholeness our hearts on our land. Isn’t this one of the reasons that our Cistercian Founders delighted in being lovers of the place?