Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Lectionary: 239


This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’
For what great nation is there
that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
whenever we call upon him?
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
that are as just as this whole law
which I am setting before you today?


I often meet Veterans who tell me they want nothing to do with "organized religion." I'm sure they picked up the phrase someplace; if that's really how they feel, I wish they'd come up with a more original way of saying it. It's almost as stale as the religion they disdain. 

It would be easy to suppose the "institution" has failed somewhere; but I don't believe it. I cannot blame the good souls who attend weekly and daily Masses. I may spot a few sinners here and there, but the only hypocrite is the one in the sacristy mirror. 

And the jibe -- stale as it is -- is basically in tune with the Christian critique. These unchurched critics learned at least that much from our tradition. If they were taught our faith, they never caught the inner spirit; they never met (or don't remember meeting) the Lord who draws the faithful to Sunday and daily Mass. 

In today's first reading we hear Moses urging his people to embrace the Law of God. What they accept is not an institution. It is not a new set of shackles after throwing off the bondage of Egypt. The Law is not about rules, regulations and boundaries around their behavior. 

Rather, it describes the nature of our covenant with God which includes awe, reverence, gratitude, love, loyalty, willingness to make sacrifice, eagerness to hear God and be with God -- and superabundant joy. 

Inwardly glad and outwardly energized by the Friendship of their God, they must invite others to know Our God, that is to enter this friendship with God.

Inevitably, they will be called "hypocrites." That is always the response of "the world" to the Gospel. It didn't bother Jesus, it doesn't bother his people either. 


The Law of God reflects both the God who gives the Law and the Holy People who receive it. Whether you call it organized religion, the Law of Moses, the Way of Jesus, the monastic rule, the 12-step program or the Sacrament it's a privilege and treasure, a delight and blessing.  

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.