Seventh Sunday After Epiphany: The Old Testament Passage – A Post-Valentine’s Day Message

This is the passage I was highly tempted to use for Valentine’s Day. Why you ask? Because . . . it does not matter in what time or century you live, it does not matter what the economy is based on, it does not matter at distance someone is – we have to live together in harmony. And this passage is about living in harmony.

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest.
You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:1-2, 9 – 10)

The poor are among us. Live so that they can live; do not use all the resources that are available to you but make room for the marginalized. Not only financially or economically but keep compassion and care in the forefront of your being.

You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another.” (Verse 11)

Live honestly in all your dealings.

“And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD.” (Verse 12)

Remember that language matters. Not only naming the Lord as the Divine and Holy, but naming others with honor and integrity. Oh beloved reader, if we would only live according to the Lord’s law of love. Keep reading, and measure our society against the Lord’s tenets.

“You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning.
You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.
You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor.” (Verses 13 – 15)

Verse 15 does seem to be a strange anomaly. But consider, it can do as much harm to the poor in pitying them and not considering them a worthy member of society just because of their misfortune. That is just as wrong as giving advantage to the rich and powerful.

“You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.
You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Verses 16 – 18)

How are we doing as a society beloved reader? Are we showing the best side of compassion and care? We talk about love as if it was only balloons, flowers, chocolates, romance, and heart shaped everything. Love is bigger and more enduring than that. Love looks at the nitty-gritty issues and keeps righteous in clear sight. Love endures beyond one day or one season. The Lord is the Almighty Lord God of all things, and that Lord is love. Selah!