By The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon
There are odd resonances between the Deuteronomy chapters and Luke. Moses in the one is predicting the Exile, Jesus is describing not only the Last Day but also the fall of Jerusalem. Both passages were written down after those historical events, and they seek to help people understand the shocking calamities that seem so at odds with what we expect from God, whom David in the psalm says he loves more than life itself.
Both texts tell us that we must hold firm to what we believe, for in various ways we will be tempted to forsake the faith we share. If we give in to that temptation, there will be consequences. While God is ever ready to forgive our sins, the consequences of our actions or failures to act will inevitably come home to roost. In God’s providence, the Holy Spirit will make something out of them for good. Better to try and avoid it altogether, however.
The longing for God that David describes, like a wanderer in the desert seeks a drink, like a dry land needs water, is what we should strive to cultivate, in good times as well as in bad. Longing for justice and peace in our time, for right doing, and longing for Jesus Christ to fulfill completely the kingdom of God, through the creation of new heavens and a new earth.
Moses is not allowed to enter the Promised Land, for he doubted Yahweh at Meribah. He seems to think that God is dealing fairly with him. What do you think?
Compare Luke 21 with Mark 13. What is the same, and what is different? Why do you think that is so?
O God, you have always forgiven my sins when I have asked. I pray that your Holy Spirit will make those consequences which I know only too well to become the instrument of my transformation from strength to strength, through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, now and forever.
The Rt. Rev Pierre Whalon is Bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe