Friday, October 24, 2008

The Last Question

In Matthew 22:36, Jesus is asked the last and 'greatest' question. His challengers don't know it will be their last question. They merely await his answer, possibly smug, once again thinking they have trapped the rabbi into a no win scenario. They do finally learn that with Jesus, the only limited situation is the one he chooses to accept.

Jesus is a scholar of the Psalms. He quotes from a psalm of triumph and victory in this passage. By doing so, I think he is not just handing his accusers a tricky question of their own, but by referencing the Psalms, he offers a source, an example of following the 'greatest' commandment. In the Psalms, God is praised from joyous hearts. God is petitioned from tear-full souls. God is cajoled by angry voices. God is the one to be bargained with, promised, traded, petitioned, subjected to, praised, honored, and worshiped. ALL of life is under God's hand and in the Psalms we hear ALL of life presented to God, the good, bad and ugly. (Ps. 137:9) What better example could there be of the first and greatest commandment?

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Then just so we know that Jesus is more that your average Shema singing rabbi, he grafts in the holistic intent of the Law from Leviticus 19:18 which is the centerpiece of his ministry of integrity. One can't just know the Law, or spout the Law, but one must be able to live the Law, right down to the neighbor's welfare.

I guess I've watched too much news this week to have much hope that we will ever get this life of integrity straight. Then I open my favorite copy of The Psalms (BCP) and read from my heart using the psalmists' words

Come now and look upon the works of the LORD, what awesome things he has done on earth. It is he who makes war to cease in all the world; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear, and burns the shields with fire. Be still, then, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold." 46:9-12
"Give thanks to the LORD, for the LORD is good; God's mercy endures for ever." Praise God!


RJ said...

I love your words and the way of your heart. Thank you for posting your reflections... they feed my soul.

Rev Nancy Fitz said...

thanks RJ.