Reflection on the Daily Readings for 3/18/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Wed. of third week of Lent. Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9. Psalm
147:12-13.15-16.19-20. Matthew 5:17-19. Lectionary # 240:

Not too long ago we heard a reading in Lent that made us aware that
the disciples were quite competitive for high places in the kingdom they
envisioned.  Jesus would lead them there. So either on their own or through
their mother the sons of Zebedee request to sit at Jesus' right hand and
left hand in the kingdom.  The other ten were quite upset and indignant
about this and argued among themselves as to who was the greatest. Jesus
taught them a lesson by embracing a child and telling them they had to
become more like that child to know what the kingdom is all about. Today we
have another answer as to how to become great in the kingdom of God. The
lesson fits in well with the first reading from Deuteronomy as well as with
the Psalm for the day.

We are back again in the first part of the Sermon on the Mount and
Jesus tells those gathered around him, "Whoever fulfills and teaches these
commands shall be great in the kingdom of God." He himself is showing that
he has come to fulfill all the precepts and commands God has given to
Israel and that he would not even change a iota in one of the letters of
the Torah--that's like making sure the i's in a handwritten composition are
dotted!  Jesus both preaches and teaches and here in the Sermon on the
Mount he is using as his primary source the Torah and the Prophets but
showing how they need to be fulfilled, interpreted, and expanded.  Jesus
never asks of anyone something which he himself would not do.  He has not
come to abolish or destroy but to fulfill and rejoice in the Law (Torah)
and the Prophets.

From Deuteronomy, which is the most encouraging book of the Torah, we
learn about what these commands, decrees, and precepts are. They are to be
done with a loving heart and an attentive mind. The reading tells us to put
them in our heart and our memory and pass them on to our children and those
who depend upon us.  When accomplished they bring the human potential to be
activated in our words and our deeds. This primarily is inter-relational
activity with God and neighbor; just as the commandments deal with God and
neighbor.  In a careful reading of Deuteronomy we will find that the
virtues of wisdom, understanding, and prudence are the forces of the heart
that sets God's laws in motion within our daily activities.

Finally, our connective Psalm and its response tells us that "God has
proclaimed his word to Jacob; his statutes and his ordinances to Israel. He
has not done thus for any other nation. Praise, the Lord, Jerusalem! "