Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent

by Isabel Spencer

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Here’s Jesus again stressing that he has not come to abolish the law, so it’s probably a good idea to continue to study the law as Jesus knew it. He quoted Deuteronomy more frequently than any book of scripture. And here we are 2,000 years later being brought up short by the Deuteronomist’s message. “I now teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land you are about to enter. You must observe them diligently for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the people.”

The land does not come first. The law comes first. “Give heed to the statutes and ordinances so that you may … occupy the land.”

Now we have it topsy-turvy again: land first, law second. A “new vision” that puts America First is selfish and backwards. The new vision on Inauguration Day includes this: “Every decision … will be made to benefit American families.”

This seems in direct conflict with the law as Jesus quoted it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. We know that when asked, who is my neighbor, Jesus didn’t say “Your fellow Galilean ….”

How different would it be if we put North American families first. Or, Western Hemisphere families first or simply families first. Why are American families entitled to be first? “Watch yourself closely,” the Deuteronomist goes on to say, “so that you do not act corruptly by making an idol for yourselves.” Are we making idols of ourselves? Idols are easy to make. This chapter lists likenesses of people, animals and birds, the sun moon and stars. Not bad things. America: Not a bad thing. But should it always come first?