Wednesday of the Third Week
Lord Christ, Alpha and Omega, may my life centre on you and be fulfilled in you. Tom Shufflebotham SJ
Entering into prayer
As previously, find a way to enter into a prayerful frame of mind. “Before I read the scripture, I focus on today: ‘Lord, what do you want to show me today?” You may find it helpful to read the text two or even three times...
Today's Scripture (Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5-9)
Moses said to the people, ‘And now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you. See, as the Lord my God has commanded me, I teach you the laws and customs that you are to observe in the land you are to enter and make your own. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, ‘No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation’. And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?
‘But take care what you do and be on your guard. Do not forget the things your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart all the days of your life; rather, tell them to your children and to your children’s children.’
Food for thought
As a younger man, Moses gave God several reasons why he wasn’t remotely suitable to lead the people of Israel. But in today’s reading (part of a monumental ‘sermon’ that occupies the whole of Deuteronomy), we hear him gathering up some of the strands of his lifelong mission with great conviction.
Moses, now very aged, has brought the Israelites to the very last leg of their forty-year journey through the wilderness. They will soon reach the land that God has promised them as their very own, even though Moses himself will not go with them. But first they are urged to remember and pass on all the details of the Law that God has revealed to them through Moses. These laws and customs will give you life, Moses tells them. They will enable you to enter the promised land, to know that God is close to you, and lead others to see that you are a great, wise nation. Hang on to these laws; live by them; keep them in your heart; teach them to your grandchildren: they are for you, today!’
Suggestions for prayer
I read and reread the text slowly, reverently. I notice any word or phrase that seems to ‘light up’ for me, and allow it to sink deeper.
Perhaps I picture Moses standing high up on the Plain of Moab near the River Jordan, addressing this great crowd that he has led through the wilderness. I may choose to stand with them, sensing that God is very close, watching over his chosen people … watching over me. He is there if I call to him ... and if I need to, I call on him now, with confidence.
Moses is still revered as one of history’s great leaders. Who are the important leader figures in my own life, or who have they been? Perhaps I think particularly of those who have guided me through a period of wandering, or who have helped me ‘arrive’ at a certain place. I give thanks to God for his gift of these people.
Moses speaks of the Law not in terms of tedious rules and regulations, but as a God-given gift that brings life and wisdom. I ponder this. What are the ‘laws and customs’ that enable good things in my own life … in others’ lives … and what are those that bring challenges? I speak to the Lord of this ... and allow space to listen to him. Moses reminds God’s people of their responsibility to future generations. What are the things within my heart that I most wish to pass on to others? I ask the Lord for any grace I need.
As I end my prayer, I thank God for all that gives us life, and ask for the wisdom and discernment that I need to follow Jesus this day.
How are you going to respond today?
Today I might take time to pray especially for those in positions of leadership who have featured in the news this week, especially those who occupy prominent positions on the world stage. I give thanks for all who try to make good laws and live by good customs that bring life to others, especially those whose lives are marked by suffering.
Image for the day
- How do you feel about this image?
- Were you taught the Ten Commandments by other people, or did you read them in scripture?
- Do you pass them on to others in your life? Talk to God about that.
Examen (review of prayer)
When you come towards the end of your time of prayer, or at the end of your day, talk to God about what has come up for you, what went well and what didn’t.