Tuesday, 26 August 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

Today's gospel reading mentioned tithing. God had commanded a tithe of the first fruits of one's labor as an expression of thanksgiving and honor for his providential care for his people [Deuteronomy 14:22; Leviticus 27:30]. The experts of the law during Jesus' time, however, went to extreme lengths to tithe on insignificant things (such as tiny plants) with great mathematical accuracy. Kinda missing the point, Jesus told them. Did more giving mean more thanksgiving? Extremely accurate tithing sounds like a mask for greed, don't you think?

What about "straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel"? Gnats were considered the smallest of insects and camels were considered the largest of animals in Palestine. Both were considered ritually impure. The scribes went to great lengths to avoid contact with gnats, even to the point of straining the wine cup with a fine cloth lest they accidently swallowed a gnat. In other words, they would do anything to ensure they stay ritually pure. What's the point of all this, Jesus asked them. God is more interested in what people do for others than what they do for themselves. And according to Jesus these experts are definitely not ritually pure when it comes to the way they treat others.

So let us not use laws as masks for bad attitude and habits (greed, apathy, etc.) Let us interpret laws with an eye to love (God's love, not lustful love). Let us be merciful and jjust in our dealing with others.

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