Be holy for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.
We have been made in the likeness of God. God is holy, therefore we are holy. Why do we not believe this? Why do we believe our egos, our doubts, what others say about us, but we do not believe what God says about us?
Here in Leviticus Moses makes the commandments given to the Israelites on Mount Sinai (Ex 20) practical. He makes explicit how we are to think about others, what we should say about others and how we should act towards others. This is how God thinks and speaks and acts towards us. And in being like God we are to think and speak and act like this towards our self and others.
There are no punctuation marks in the Hebrew and Greek texts that our translations are taken from. It is up to the translator(s) as to how to punctuate the verses. There has been agreement over the years to have the firm statement, “I am the Lord” at the end of the list of commands. Personally, I like to place the statement at the beginning of the instructions, such as:
I am the Lord…you are to be like me…do not steal, lie, speak falsely, swear…
I am the Lord…you are to be like me…do not defraud, withhold wages, curse the deaf or cause the blind to stumble.
I am the Lord…you are to be like me…judge justly, do not slander, defend your neighbor’s life.
I am the Lord…you are to be like me…bear no hatred for another, take no revenge, cherish no grudge.
When read like this it is much more about instruction on whom God is and how we are to be like God. Then, in the last verse of our reading today these guiding attitudes are equated to love.
This last line is the second part to Jesus’ new commandment,
after loving God with our whole heart, mind and soul, we are to
love our neighbor as our self. That sums up all the Law and the
Prophets, which is the whole of the Hebrew Scriptures (Mt 22:36-40).
Praising someone who is hungry for encouragement or thanking someone who is hungry for appreciation.
Talking to someone who is thirsty for companionship or contacting someone who is thirsty for some sign of friendship.
Restoring assurance to someone who has been stripped of their self-confidence or clothing someone in truth who has been stripped of his/her good name because of malicious gossip.
Treating those who are different from you with respect and building up those who suffer from social injustices.
Lightening the sickness of doubt and worry with a cheerful, supportive attitude and being patient with one who is depressed.
Setting free someone imprisoned by nerves with a calm demeanor and releasing a homebound person from the prison of loneliness through your friendship.
Since “God is Love” (1 Jn 4:8) we are to be love for one another as God is love for us. We are to be loving as God is loving. As we begin this season of Lent may we strive to be holy as God is holy. May we strive to treat everyone with decency, respect and love in all that we say, do and think. It could change our life. It could change our world.
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