The Readings: Exodus 19:1-16; Colossians 1:1-14; Matthew 3:7-12
Today’s readings align in striking ways, so that we might profitably print out the following excerpts and mark them up, noticing common themes…
Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19:5-6)
For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10)
Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:8-10)
What do you notice? I notice:
- The first reading—as long noticed by Jewish readers—is like the culmination of a courtship, in which G-d pops the question. Divine vulnerability, on full display, and equally present in the other readings.
- So much of creation is glorious—and we might pause here to recall our own short list of examples. G-d desires that humanity’s glory be no less heart-stopping. (Why do we settle for less?)
- With John the Baptist divine desire comes out as demand. This is the G-d of the Exodus, and humans are powerful enough that the alternative to glory is desolation and oppression.
What do you notice?