“In Him we live and move and have our being” – these words spoken by St Paul to the people of Athensin the Acts of the Apostles came to mind as I reflected on today’s Mass readings.

In the first reading Moses asks the question: “what great nation has its gods so close as the Lord our God is to us when we call upon him?  and what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?  Moses invites the people to listen and to put this Law into practice and he gives the reason why – so that they may have life! and may enter and take possession of the land which the Lord is giving to them.  For the Israelites we know that this land was Canaan or Palestine but for us Christians its meaning has been expanded beyond all imagining – St James in the second reading gives us a clue as he re-echoes a similar message: “it is all that is good, everything that is perfect which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light.  By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth” …. And then he invites us to “listen and submit to the word which is planted in us and can save our souls.” Possession of the land in the Old Testament can now be translated as possession all the graces and blessings which have come to us through Christ – in a word the gift of Salvation – belonging to the family of the Trinity – sharing in the very relationship of the Son to the Father.   In the Gospel Jesus warns us against lip-service while our hearts are preoccupied with values contrary to his law – and invites us to listen saying: “listen to me all of you and understand.”

 

All three readings in one way or another invite us to listen – to look beyond the letter of the Law to what God is offering – to enter our hearts and reflect on the nearness of our God – to reflect on what we have received – the treasure which we carry in our hearts often without our being consciously aware of it.  Each and every human being has come forth from the hand of a loving God and is sustained in existence until we return to Him – “His is the breath that is in us and at his own bidding will He take it away.”  But for those of us who are baptised and receive the Eucharist – we live by the very life of Christ – as we have been hearing in the Gospel these past few weeks: “he who eats my flesh and drinks by blood lives in me and I live in him.”  And again “if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you will not have life in you.”  The life which Moses promised the Israelites in return for obeying the Law was only a shadow of the real life which God had in store for his people through Christ.  All growth in prayer and in our relationship with God implies that we become more and more aware of this treasure we carry within us and claim it as our own. 

 

With Moses we too can exclaim: “what great  nation has its gods so near as the Lord is to us” – “for in Him we live and move and have our being”.