Monday, February 23, 2015

Three gems from Leviticus: Daily Mass Homily--Monday, February 23rd, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            If you took a straw poll, the book of Leviticus would probably be voted the most boring book of the Bible.  That’s just the fact.  In a previous homily, I said I imagined Leviticus as the last kid picked on a playground kickball team!
            Yet this one reading alone shows how important the book of Leviticus is.  Within these ten verses we have three magnificent teachings.
            First, we have one of the most important verses of the Old Testament: “Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.”  I have mentioned before that the entire Bible could be summarized in one verse—John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”).  If I had to pick one verse for just the Old Testament, this would be a good one—“Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.”  The OT is about God’s holiness—His otherness—and His call of His chosen people.
            Second, we have a stark reminder about our Lenten mission to avoid gossip: “You shall not go about spreading slander among your kin…”  There’s another verse to add to the ones I gave you this weekend!  And for anyone that thinks gossip isn’t a big deal—read again the second half of this verse: “…nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake.”  This is a deliberate sentence by the sacred author, implying that gossip is as bad as watching a neighbor’s life being risked without helping!
            Finally, the Golden Rule itself comes from Leviticus: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
            The easily-forgotten book of Leviticus has much to say as we begin Lent.  May we grow in holiness, as God is holy.  May we avoid gossip.  May we love our neighbor as ourself.

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