By The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon
Today is all about tests. Not school exams, of course, but the kinds of experiences that put our values to the test: do we live according to our proclaimed values? And how can we know how to apply those values to morally ambiguous situations we face?
The Second Law (which “Deuteronomy” means) refines and reiterates the Law of Moses, which is summed up in the Ten Commandments. In these chapters, we are repeatedly told to choose between blessing and curse, life and death. The author, who is supposed to be the Lawgiver himself, tells us in graphic detail what life will be like after we make that choice. In short, it will be delightful or gruesome.
The Psalmist has a different slant. He places his trust in God, even as enemies try to knock him down. They speak blessings upon him but really mean curses. Lest we be tempted, he warns us that status in human society, wealth and power are of no consequence. Like the Deuteronomist, the Psalmist tells us that our choices do matter.
Luke 20 is about Jesus being tested. He confounds those who would trip him up every time by reframing their questions in terms of God’s intent. Like the Temptation in the desert, Jesus is successful because he sees everything through the lens of God’s mission — his mission — in creation.
The Scriptures remind us to see our own lives, and the often-difficult choices we must make, from the perspective first of God’s intent for us, both individually and as a race.
What in your life can you name as an authentic blessing? And what would be a “curse”?
Take a moment to read the closing verses of each of today’s chapters. They weave together with subtle power.
Lead me not into temptation, O Lord, and do not put me to the test. In difficult choices, let your Spirit ever guide me in the path you would have me take. You have promised to be always with us — do not forsake me, Lord our God. Amen.
The Rt. Rev Pierre Whalon is Bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe