Sunday 12th February 2023 - 6th Sunday after Epiphany
Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37; Psalm 119:1-8
A foundational message in today's readings is to obey God's law; to walk in God's ways. This is emphasised in the devotional narrative of Psalm 119, and also in the civic ceremony of Deuteronomy 30. When applied in the New Testament context, we might easily be drawn to seeing as largely a matter of personal morality, and observation within the community of the Church. Some of the New Testament applications will need to be explored with sensitivity, but might also provide opportunity to affirm and pray for those who work in areas of relationship counselling, family law, mediation etc.
The book of Deuteronomy particularly reminds us that personal morality cannot be separated from our public values. In its opening chapters, this law code has called community members to love God with their heart, soul and strength, and many of the decrees and commands that follow seek for this to be evidenced by the way in which people do business with one another, fulfil roles within the community even engage with issues of food hygiene and sanitation that we might ascribe today to a Department of Public Health. The principles of honesty, integrity and unity that emerge from these readings are to be applied to our personal lives, our life together as a Christian community, but also our engagement with the world of work and commerce.
At the heart of Jesus' challenging teaching on divorce and giving legal testimony is the principle of openness and integrity. This is particularly poignant in a world where terms like 'fake news' and 'post-truth' have become increasingly prevalent. We might summarise his reflection on divorce as 'you might be able to justify something in law - but be honest with yourself about your true motives and intent'. The call to 'let your yes be yes and your no be no' is a challenge to avoid being deliberately misleading or economic with truth. Christians in the workplace can often be particularly challenged by expectations for them to comply with misleading and at times downright dishonest narratives that serve the interests of their employer. Today's readings provide opportunity to reflect on this reality and pray for those who have to face this at work.