Sun, 11 August 2019
Dt.10:12-22; Ps.147:12-15,19-20; Mt.17:22-27)
“In His love for your fathers the Lord was so attached to them
as to choose you, their descendants, in preference to all other peoples.”
The Israelites are the chosen race, and Jesus the Chosen One of that race. Upon them the blessing rests, and in the Son it is fulfilled.
Our first reading tells us that the Lord is a great God, “who has no favorites, accepts no bribes; who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and befriends the alien, feeding and clothing him.” And the Israelites are called to be made in the image of their Father, showing His might in this way of compassion and truth. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord, your God, ask of you but to fear the Lord, your God, and follow His ways exactly,” declares Moses. And so he enjoins upon the people the Lord’s word, “His statutes and ordinances,” which “He has not made known” to other nations, and which serve as their guide to maintaining His light in their lives. “He has strengthened the bars of your gates… He has granted peace in your borders,” our psalm confirms: by the grace of God’s law their children are blessed and become “numerous as the stars of the sky.”
And in our gospel we see again the fulfillment of the Father’s blessing and of His law in the Person of Jesus and the sacrifice He, and we, are called to make. First Jesus makes clear that He is the Son of God exempt from the temple tax – how can the temple pay tax unto itself, or, better yet, how can the temple be paid tax by Him who made it? Jesus is the Chosen One, the chosen of the chosen sons. And His new Law, His new way – which again is but the fulfillment of the law laid out by Moses – is the cross. Moses tells us of the compassion and justice of the Father, who cares for widows and orphans and aliens, and Jesus embodies that love and truth by being “delivered into the hands of men who will put Him to death” for our sin and to show the love God has for us in such utter sacrifice.
Brothers and sisters, allow me to note here that there is no distinction between the love and the justice of God: they are inseparable, the one ever complementing the other. It is out of both love and a sense of justice that the Lord defends the widows and orphans, saving them from their oppressors and gathering them into His arms. His love breeds justice and His justice love. This is the way of God; and this must be our way as His children.
Yes, God loves the world and so He sends His Son to make atonement for our sin. We have sinned and atonement must be made; it cannot be otherwise. And it cannot be otherwise but that God makes that atonement by His love. Let us join to Him as sons in His holy sacrifice. This is our special, blessed call.
O LORD, though in His love He made Himself
an outcast for our sakes, for our lack of love,
Jesus is your only Son.
YHWH, you are the great God, mighty and awesome, your glory far above us and our ways. Yet you bless us with your presence, you proclaim your Word to our hearts – you send your Son into our midst as the Temple in which we may worship you and so join ourselves to your surpassing glory. For this grace let us never cease to praise you; let us never fail to follow in your way.
Your Son shows to us the way we must walk; the way of love He marks out for us in perfectly fulfilling your will, in freely going to the Cross. Here your surpassing love for your poor creatures you reveal to us. And this same love you call us to – this same glory is ours, O LORD, by the mercy He bears.
To this Temple let us come. In your Son let us make our home. He who humbles Himself for our sakes, who joins Himself to us for our salvation, let us follow unto glory. Your Word be fulfilled in our midst.