Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1: Jos. 24. 14 – 29; Gospel: Mt. 19. 13 – 15.
In today’s first reading, we see how Joshua is once again reminding the Israelites that their God is a strong, but jealous God who can’t bear to see his own, going after another – an image of a fearsome God who should be approached with reverence and fear, or rather addressed to only from a distance, from behind a veil. Else, He would punish you. Later, the Jewish temple had a veil that shrouded their God in the clouds of mystery. The Old Testament image of God is unapproachable.
However, Jesus in the New Testament sets a new standard. He scolds his disciple for not letting children come to him. He presents to us a Go who likes child like simplicity, so much so that he leaves the doors of His Kingdom open only to those who bear childlike simplicity. Our God, rather than distancing himself from people wishes to dwell with us, within us. He asks Zacchaeus to be his host, enjoys the hospitality of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, feasts at the wedding party at Cana, accepts Mary’s lavish treatment with perfume at Simon’s. Not just these, he forgets his tiredness and private time to tend to the sick and needy, feeds the five-thousand and four-thousand.
At the moment of his death, Jesus, symbolically, tore off the very same veil of anonymity and mystery in the temple. He wants us to see beyond the veil: a God who loves and cares and walks with his children in the garden (Gen. 3. 8). To a people who feared to name God (they called God YHWH, because they considered it too holy to be pronounced), he taught an entire lifetime to call them ABBA – father. Jesus wishes to be our friend, in fact he calls us friends and not servants (cf. Jn. 15. 15). Are we ready to accept him as one?