Land of Milk and Honey
How often do we think about words of commitment: I promise you in sickness and in health; I vow to you my sisters and brothers in community; I seek to live out my life serving; I promise to give my support to this newly baptized; and so forth? Our lives are full of individuals and couples who in sacred liturgies and ceremonies put words around commitments that will frame their present and future days of living in relationship.
Last weekend I had an opportunity to watch people at an international airport re-unite after part of the group came through customs. I could not understand their words, but their gestures of affection were powerful. It made me think about my reunions with my family members and how I take for granted those connections. As I heard the Eastern European language being spoken by one family, I wondered if this was a “taken for granted reunion?”
Reunions usually have some previous history of commitment, be it the core blood connections that may exist between families or commitments that came from sacred and civil promises. Again it is these frameworks that act as guides for the hopes and desires of people seeking to live out relationships with others in a particular way. In the readings from the Sunday of November 5th, Moses and Jesus give the followers of God a framework through which they are called to live out their relationships with God and with each other.
When Moses spoke to the Israelites, he was giving the important and intimate framework that was needed to define their relationship to Yaweh.
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God,
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength.
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.”
In the gospel reading when the scribe was asking Jesus about the most important commandment, he was seeking to find out if Jesus was guided by the cardinal commandment of any Jew; Jesus not only did not disappoint this seeker, he took him into a deeper understanding of living this law.
Through a newly spoken second commandment he invited the scribe and those listening to put love of God into action through love of neighbor and self.
The second is this:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Later in the gospels, Jesus poses the question, “Who is my neighbor?” It is in that lesson that we learn about the good Samaritan.
For you and I, we are invited to be about the commandments given to us in the readings from this Sunday’s readings. Dare we risk going against the cultural tide and love God with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with all our strength? And even more risky, dare we love our neighbor, both known and stranger, as we love ourselves? What are we willing to commit ourselves to in order to build up the kingdom? What words might guide our hearts that will lead us into the land of milk and honey into being close to the kingdom of God.