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Lenten Weekday
Exodus 32:7-14
Psalm 106:19-20, 21-22, 23
John 5:31-47
Today’s readings are strong indeed. The L
is speaking to Moses in the first reading.
The L
is seemingly angry and about to smite the Hebrew people. Yet Moses speaks
up the Lord and asks for mercy. In some ways he does some fast salesmanship and en-
courages the Lord to give them another chance so he doesn’t look bad to the Egyp-
tians. In today’s Gospel Jesus is speaking to the Jews. When John says “the Jews”, you
know he’s not pleased with the leadership. Just before this pericope Jesus had healed
an ill man on the Sabbath. The leadership questioned the man because he was carry-
ing his mat of the Sabbath. The cured man told the leadership that the man who
healed him told him to carry his mat and so he did. In today’s gospel passage, Jesus is
telling the Jews just who he is. Jesus outlines the work of John the Baptist, he shares
that he is the one written about in scriptures. Then Jesus accuses them of not wanting
what he has to offer. Jesus continues, “If you do not believe [Moses’] writing how will
you believe my words?”
Today’s readings are a theology lesson on the law. Not long ago I was in a religion
class at school and my text,
The Invention of World Religions
by Tomoko
Masuzawa, was all about how religious thought comes into being. This au-
thor and scholar liked to make her readers sit with a dictionary close at hand.
My professor’s favorite word from the book was “rhizomatic.” In other
classes this might have been a throw away word, but not so in my class. The
root of the word is found in many dictionaries: “
a horizontal, usu-
ally underground stem that often sends out roots and shoots from its
nodes”. As you might have surmised this was a tough book, and this concept
of religions being organic was (if you excuse the pun) at the root of the the-
What is the root of today’s readings? I suggest that the law is the root. In
the first reading Moses, while getting the law on the tablets, has a new task.
Instead of saving his people from Pharaoh, now he must plead with the Lord
to allow the Lord’s words to find their way into the Hebrew’s hearts. Al-
though the law was written on hard stones, seemingly unchangeable—they
are changed as they are lived. The book of Leviticus is testimony to that.
When Jesus is met with the opposition, he shares his thesis, that he himself is
the law. The law is living, it is organic, and to quote Masuzawa, “rhizomatic”.
This theology lesson is only fruitful if it means something to me and to my
reader. This passage suggests that I have to look at each law that I read and
each law that I make with the heart of Jesus. I do make laws for our Confir-