It is not too remote, in the sky, across the sea… 14Jul2019

The Israelites have reached the end of their 40 year sojourn from Egyptian slavery and are ready to enter the promised land. As part of his farewell speech to them, Moses reminds them, “If only you would heed the voice of the Lord, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes… for the command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky. Nor is it across the sea. No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts” (emphasis added).

The scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus should have been familiar with Moses words. Jesus tests him in return, asking, “What is written in the law?” The scholar responds correctly but then, once again, tries to gain the upper hand in the verbal joust he had begun by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” Looking at this whole encounter causes me to wonder what was in the scholar’s heart. It doesn’t sound like love of God was uppermost.

When Moses points out the commandments and statutes by which the Israelites are expected to live, he also tells them that knowing right from wrong or good from bad is not a distant knowledge. The narrow way, as Jesus would later call it, is well known to them. It is within them—and us, too—as part of the Imago Dei imprinted on each of our souls by our Creator. Why, then, is the love He asks of us so difficult for us to give?

The easy answer to that question lies in our brokenness as a result of Original Sin, but that’s too easy. The tougher question to answer is, “What is in my heart?” It is obvious what is in the heart of the scholar who decides to joust with Jesus, but I must always focus on my own heart, not other’s. I must always ask myself where my treasure lies and what is occupying the space in my heart where Jesus desires to dwell. In this regard, it may be good to spend time contemplating the words of St. Paul, All things were created though Him (Jesus) and for Him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Deacon Richard

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