Great is the Lord,
and greatly to be praised.
We ponder your steadfast love,
(Psalm 48:1a, 9a)
If a man suspects his wife of adultery, he should bring her before a priest. The priest prepares a potion for her to drink. He tells her if she is innocent, nothing will happen, but, if she is guilty, the drink will cause her womb to empty. And the woman shall say, "Amen, Amen."
Note that the husband has no proof, but he takes her to a priest to undergo an ordeal. Guilty or innocent, she is being punished by being humiliated and risks miscarriage and sterility. On the other hand, she is not put to death (see Leviticus 20:10).
This ritual provides a way for the priest to remove the sentence and punishment of an accused adulteress; furthermore, he has a way to keep her from a lifetime of suspicion and innuendo.
The husband's suspicion, like any disruption of human relationships, is more than a family problem; it could affect the community. And a disruption in a community threatens the continuation of God's presence.
How do church congregations now deal with disruptions?
Jesus' harshest criticism is not against heretics but against hypocrites.
He's describing religious people who parade their piety around but certainly show no love for neighbor--poor neighbors, anyway.
He calls us to look at what the rich contribute and compares it to one poor widow who's giving all she has.
On what basis do we tend to make decisions about whom to admire?
Prayer for Today: Lord, direct our attention and actions to your command to us to love you above all else. Because of that love, direct us to show that love by directing it outwards to those around us. Amen.