Reflections on Monday Daily Lectionary, Feast Day of St Athanasius

May 2, 2016 at 1:05 pm Leave a comment

For the first two readings of today (Leviticus 25:35-55 and Colossians 1:9-14), the connecting thread is ‘liberty.’ God liberated his people from Egypt. They therefore are created for freedom. The Israelites are forbidden to lend to the poor at interest, but to take care of those in need. They may not buy each other as slaves, but must hire them, and they will be released at the Jubilee year. (An unsettling note to modern ears attuned to individual rights is that Israelites may buy people of foreign nations as slaves. But in a world of slavery, the notion that the rich could not buy the poor of their own nation as slaves would have been a major advance in the understanding of God’s will.)

The reading closes with the rules for ‘redeeming’ a slave; for buying the slave’s freedom. Here, the connection with Colossians is clear; for 1:14 says, ‘[The Father] has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’ One wonders as we use the word ‘Redeemer’ in referring to Jesus, whether we understand what that means. It cost Jesus his life to buy us back for God.

The people are created for freedom, but what is life in freedom? According to the last verse of our reading from Leviticus, life in freedom is a life of service to God. Slavery to work, to sin, keeps one from serving God. ‘For to me the people of Israel are servants, they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.’ (Lev. 25:55).

 

 

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