O you who answer prayer!
To you all flesh shall come.
When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,
you forgive our transgressions.
As they are camped by the Jordan, the Lord tells Moses that they are to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan, a reminder that God owns the land. Not only does God give them possession on the land but also directs them as to who gets how much and where. The amount of land each tribe gets is dependent on how many people are in that tribe. Who gets which piece of land is to be determined by lots.
Each of the tribes are to give up some of their towns to Levites, clergy but not full priests, tribe but not counted as one of the twelve.
Cities of refuge: The unintentional slayer is protected from blood vengeance but also confined to exile for involvement, however unintended, in the death of another human being. The new generation finds a way to provide compromise when faced with challenging new realities.
Today's reading from Luke tells us about two men who are healed by Jesus. The first is a leper. Because of his disease, he would have been considered unclean, that is, untouchable, excluded from contact with anyone. The other is a man who is paralyzed, unable to walk.
The first man approaches Jesus directly, asks for help. The second man is unable to approach Jesus; so, his friends help him.
Two other points: 1) What are we to glean from their method of getting help--cutting a hole in somebody else's roof? 2) What is it in those religious leaders that cause them to be so negative about the work that Jesus is doing? What upsets us religious folk today?
The psalm begins with an acknowledgment of the debt we owe God, "Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed."
Not just us, but everyone, "To you all flesh shall come," and "you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas."
This psalm notes specific gifts. One is forgiveness, "When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions."
And God sends rain, "You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it."
I'm struck by the combining of these two, examining parallels between them. What happens to a life without forgiveness, if we become sunk in despair over our past sins, what barrenness of purpose, of existence, would it be? But, God's forgiveness, as abundant as the roaring sea, can make it possible for us to live lives of abundance, providing us with overflowing bounty that we can share as the watered fields provide grain for us.
Prayer for Today: Choose a prayer from Joan Stott's website The Timeless Psalms