By Dr. Jenny Te Paa
In today’s Leviticus readings are echoes of the Ten Commandments, those good and enduring rules for living an exemplary and obedient Christian life.
I take Brueggemann’s point that God’s people Israel were here being enjoined to order their lives in such a way that they would be qualified for communion with Yahweh even as simultaneously they were also to practice justice for the sake of the entire community (p.428). 1
The call was not simply to passive obedience but to impassioned advocacy for the poor, the vulnerable, for those oppressed.
It is surely the same for us in our time to ensure that it is by our good works and not simply our pious proclamations that our faith can be seen as authentic.
The demands of doing God’s justice can often be very costly because they place us directly up against both people and systems, which are inherently wicked. The Psalmist however assures us that ultimately good will triumph over evil. We are encouraged to be patient, to refrain from anger, to simply ‘Trust in the Lord, and do good’!
As a teacher I am often frustrated by my seeming inability to always make theology ever more accessible and profoundly understandable to students. In particular I often encounter either indifference or opposition to my theological claim that all Christians are called to be instinctive activists for God’s justice.
Today’s Gospel reassures me that my struggle to be a more effective teacher of theology has its roots in the days of Jesus earthly ministry.
Mark illustrates how even the disciples, those closest to Jesus himself, were frustratingly slow to understand the teaching of the One who came in order that we might have life and have it in abundance.
Daily Bible Studies such as these provide us the chance of more readily understanding Jesus teachings. For in these precious daily moments of biblical reflection we are provided timely scriptural reminders; the opportunity to pray and time to develop the very necessary faith based discipline to be truly as servant disciples, especially with and for those who are the least among us.
1 Brueggemann, Walter. Theology of the Old Testament. Augsburg Fortress: Minneapolis. 1997.
How many of the Ten Commandments can you recite off by heart? How relevant/influential do you believe these Commandments to be in your life and In your context in the 21st century?
What are some examples from your context where the church has been especially influential in advocating for social justice for those most vulnerable in your community?
Loving God you call us your servants to model your holiness in all we say and do. Help us in our daily worship of you to become ever more humble, ever more willing to give freely of ourselves to meeting the needs of those who suffer so disproportionately in our communities. Amen.
Dr. Jenny Te Paa is the Principal of Te Rau Kahkatea at St. John’s College in Auckland, New Zealand.