Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 13, 2011: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37
Deuteronomy 30:15-20: “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 If you obey the commandments of the LORD you God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways and observing his commandments, decrees and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous and the LORD you God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 loving the LORD you God, obeying him and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may life in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.”
Matthew 5:21-37: “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder and whoever murders shall be liable to judgment. 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council and if you say ‘You fool,’ you will liable to the hell of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the guard and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members that for you whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right had causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany Comment: Once I was having conversation with a friend who was struggling with the ‘thou shalt nots’ of the ten commandments. We agreed that God is perfect and it follows that God’s commands and ways are perfect. When we think a commandment is wrong or unfair or outdated, “How do you make God’s commandments better; how do you improve what is perfect?”
We also agreed that God is love. That according to the Scriptures because God loved us first (1 John 4:19), we have learned some measure of that love and can love others as well. We concluded that God’s commandments are a perfect expression of love. Even if we never understand to intricate dimensions of God’s love or ways, we accept that they are flawless.
Can we reread the Scriptures for this sixth Sunday after Pentecost and understand that when God says ‘thou shalt not,’ it is for our good?
May the light of God’s love shine through our doubts until we know that nothing will ever separate us from the love of God made known in Jesus Christ. Out of this certainty we will always choose life and prosperity. Amen
©February 10, 2011