My word is heard – Saturday, First week of Lent – Deuteronomy 26:16-19/Matthew 5:43-48

My word is heard – Saturday, First week of Lent – Deuteronomy 26:16-19/Matthew 5:43-48

If a Catholic were to recall the day of their confirmation, even if they received the sacrament at 15 years, at best they would recall a few snatches of the day. I can’t recall a thing except the late Bishop Longinus Pereira who seemed very scary at the time and of course, Fr Jude Pereira, whose catechesis is perhaps what fostered a vocation.

The text from Deuteronomy which is the first reading at today’s liturgy, is to my mind, a text worthy of the liturgy for the sacrament of confirmation. At present, we can choose from texts taken from the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel or Joel. But this text to my mind is special, apt for young people and suited for the understanding of the reception of the sacrament.

Deuteronomy can be read as if Moses is throwing the law book at you. Yes, it does make for tedious reading and like any 120-year-old man it seems like he is rambling on and on about the same things. Well, Moses may have been 120 years old but he was not rambling or repetitive; he was concerned.

Moses had led the people out of Israel and no sooner did they experience freedom from Pharaoh than they rebelled against God in a bid to win freedom from Him. They had experienced the power of God who ravaged the land of Egypt with seven plagues to humble Pharaoh into submission and set his people free. Yet, at the first opportunity, they attempted to break free from the God who had set them free. God had enough of their shenanigans and he was determined that this generation was not going to see the promised land. As a result, they rambled for forty years in the wilderness.

Deuteronomy 4:1 has Moses addressing (and it is a very long address spanning 16 odd chapters) the next generation of Israelites who perhaps were born in the wilderness or too young to participate in the sins of their parents at Mt Sinai. This is their confirmation day! Yes, they were chosen by God but now they had to say their yes to Him and this they had to do before they crossed the Jordan into Canaan, the land “flowing with milk and honey.” (26:9)

Deuteronomy, by its very Greek name, means the second law. It is not that God wrote a new law for this new generation of Israelites but rather Moses reminds them of the law previously given and explains it again to this new generation. This was the law that was previously given to their forefathers at Sinai (Exodus) and now that this new generation had reached the crossing into the promised land, they had to make a free choice to accept this covenantal relationship that God offered them. This is exactly what we do at confirmation. The seal of the Holy Spirit is the seal of the covenantal relationship that every baptized catholic chooses to make for themselves at an age of reason; a seal that accepts God as their Lord and accepts his statutes and ordinances (all of them).

Many may read this book or for that matter may see the Christian life as too tedious. Deuteronomy itself is like a thousand ‘do this and don’t do that’. We must understand the mind of God as communicated to this new generation of Israelites on the threshold of entering the promised land.

The law was not given to them to burden them as much as it was given to them to set them apart. The text of today reminds us of the words of God, “Today the Lord has obtained YOUR agreement; to be his treasured people, as he promised you, and to keep his commandments, for him to set you high above the nations that he has made, in praise and in fame and in honour and for you to be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.”(26:18-19).

God did not want us to be burdened with the law but to stand apart because we follow the law. He wanted the new generation of Israelites to be set apart from the seven nations that formed the region of Canaan. Confirmation is the setting apart of a young generation of Catholics who chose FREELY to ratify this covenant made at their Baptism with God. It is the entering into the promised land which ironically has not just seven nations but thousands of conflicting views. It is a sacrament that relies on the Holy Spirit to stand apart in a world that is falling apart. Confirmation is not a slavish following of a book of laws or a restrictive life but rather a free choice to become a soldier in God’s army where ‘the enemy’ is a crafty and devious adversary and the battle against him is real.

Spread the love ♥

You might also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *