God is altogether different than creation. God transcends
creation; God is holy! Today’s passage unfolds in a series of
paired verses, each of which begins with a command or law that
governs our relations with one another and then concludes with
a rationale for that command or law. In each case, the rationale is
the same. We are to live by these laws because we are not God.
The repetition of “I am the Lord” reminds us that God is the
source of all of creation. Therefore, we walk humbly and treat
our neighbor with loving-kindness. We take our place within
creation with humility and gratitude. The whole of creation is a
gift freely given; it need not have been.

Because we are not the source of creation, we constitute
our relationship to creation on freedom. Because we have freely
received the good gifts of creation, we share those gifts freely
with our neighbors. Thus we do not reap to the corners of our
fields or glean every grape from our vineyard. Rather, we leave
some of the harvest for the poor. Put simply, we do not hoard the
gifts of creation for ourselves.

While the command not to reap and glean to the corners of
the fields or vineyards seems to speak to an agrarian context,
the principle that it represents has broad application. All our
resources, including our money, time, homes, and food ultimately
come from God. Whatever we may have done to procure
our resources, we did not create them. Before they were our
possessions, they were gifts from God. When we forget this
fact, we run the risk of idolatry. By contrast, when we remember
and celebrate the sheer giftedness of creation by sharing
our resources with others, we are set free to enjoy that which
exceeds creation—the beauty and splendor of God’s holiness.

Holy God, we give you thanks this day for the gift of creation in all of its splendor. Help us to walk humbly with you and to welcome and care for all those we meet along the way. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 5:38-48

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Lectionary Week
February 13–19, 2017
Scripture Overview

These texts evidence relentless concern with the moral requirements that belong to life with the God of the Bible. They assume the foundation of covenantal law in God’s rescuing acts. That foundation is implicit in undergirding these several treatments of God’s commands. The psalmist is aware that the commands of God constitute a radical counter-obedi- ence. The text from Leviticus brings us to the core claims of cov- enantal law. The rule of the God of Israel leads directly to focus on the neighbor. The neighbor is not just an inconvenience or an intrusion but is the stuff of moral awareness. Paul’s admonitions to the Corinthian Christians state the bold claim that Jesus Christ is the central focus of every Christian’s commitment. The Gospel reading invites the community to reflect on, imagine, and devise extra measures of neighbor love that reflect the character of God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18. What would be some signs that you are attaining the holiness God desires?
• Read Psalm 119:33-40. The writer states that “Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to perfect it.” How did/does Jesus do that?
• Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23. Consider how these two statements relate to your life: “We do not have to be morally perfect before God will dwell within us” and “We can be morally impure after God comes to dwell with us.”
• Read Matthew 5:38-48. What instances in your life show that you “reject the call for retaliation or revenge in favor of the higher calling of forgiveness”?

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