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So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being.
Although heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the Lord your God, the earth with all that is in it, yet the Lord set his heart in love on your ancestors alone and chose you, their descendants after them, out of all the peoples, as it is today. Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.
You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen. Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy persons; and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in heaven.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In the Ethics class I teach to juniors, I try to emphasize the idea that good rules and just laws are rooted in love, and not simply control or obedience. I tell my young daughter not to run into the middle of the street, not because I wish to control her, but because I cherish her and this “command” keeps her alive so I can be with her.
Today’s first reading reminds us it is the same with God’s commands. God does not demand obedience for the sake of control, but desires relationship with us. God desires us to be happy and healthy and loved. Following God’s law helps create the space for God to do amazing things. God’s law is about our hearts. Remembering God’s generosity helps us to stay close, honor God’s commands and extend generosity to others.
—Megan Agliano teaches in religious studies at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, AZ.
God of love, help me follow your laws of love. Help me to tame my selfishness and love you and others better through word and deed. Help me to offer to others the generosity and hospitality that you have shown to me in my life. AmenPlease share the Good Word with your friends!