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To: All

From: Deuteronomy 26:4-10

First Fruits


(Moses spoke to the people saying,) [4] “Then the priest shall take the basket
from your hand, and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.

[5] “And you shall make response before the Lord your God, ‘A wandering Ara-
mean was my father; and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in
number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. [6] And
the Egyptians treated us harshly, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bon-
dage. [7] Then we cried to the Lord the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard
our voice, and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression; [8] and the Lord
brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great
terror, with signs and wonders; [9] and he brought us into this place and gave
us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. [10] And behold, now I bring the
first of the fruit of the ground, which thou, O Lord, hast given me.’ And you shall
set it down before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

26:1-11. The Deuteronomic Code, which began by specifying that there should
be only one sanctuary (cf. chap. 12), concludes by giving the prayers that were
to be said in that sanctuary in connection with the offering of the first fruits.

The offering of the first fruits was an appropriate way for Israel to express grati-
tude for the great deeds done by God, the “magnalia Dei”, the wonders he
worked in liberating the people from bondage and establishing them in the pro-
mised land.

The prayer that is said on this occasion (vv. 5-9) is a kind of historical-religious
Creed, a very important one, which takes in all the main features of Old Testa-
ment faith. It is a summary of the history of Israel, centered on its deliverance
from Egypt and settlement in the promised land. These two saving actions form
a paradigm: they are the hinges on which this “creed” (vv. 8-9) turns. Other Old
Testament passages containing similar “professions of faith” are to be found in
Deut 6:20-23; Josh 24:1-13; Neh 9:4ff; Jer 32:16-25 and Ps 136.

Jacob is portrayed as a key figure in the early history of the people of Israel; he
personifies the patriarchal era. The reference to him not by name but as a “wan-
dering Aramaean” (v. 5) underlines the contrast between the miserable circum-
stances of Israel earlier and settlement in the promised land. Jacob could be
called an Aramaean because Abraham may have been connected with the mi-
grations of Aramaean tribes. Moreover, one must bear in mind the long years
Jacob spent in north-eastern Mesopotamia, and his Aramaean wives (Gen 29-
30). The prayer at the first-fruits offering heightens the contrast between the po-
verty of the homeless, landless Aramaean and the prosperity of the rich land-
owner enjoying his freedom in a land flowing with milk and honey.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


3 posted on 02/16/2013 9:43:24 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Romans 10:8-13

Israel’s Infidelity (Continuation)


[8] But what does it [Moses’ writing] say? The word is near you, on your lips
and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); [9] because, If
you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that
God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For man believes with
his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.
[11] The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”
[12] For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is
Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. [13] For, “eve-
ry one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

******************************************************************************************
Commentary:

6-8. St Paul here quotes and applies some words from Deuteronomy: “This
commandment,” Moses tells the people of Israel, “which I command you this
day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you
should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may
hear it and do it? [...] Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that
we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth
and in your heart, so that you can do it” (Deut 30:11-14). The law which God
handed to Moses, then, clearly revealed his will and made it much easier to
fulfill. By the Incarnation, the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us
and showed us the way to God. For the Christian the life and teaching of the
Word made flesh are divine precepts and commandments. Through his Incar-
nation Jesus Christ brought us grace and truth; by rising from the dead he
conquered death; and by ascending into heaven and, with the Father, sen-
ding the Holy Spirit, he perfected his work of redemption.

9. At least from the third century B.C. we have documentary evidence that,
out of respect, the Jews did not utter the name “Yahweh” but generally re-
ferred to God instead as “Lord”. The first Christians, by giving Christ the title
of “Lord”, were making a profession of faith in the divinity of Jesus.

10. To make the act of faith, human free will must necessarily be involved as
St Thomas explains when commenting on this passage: “He very rightly says
that man believes with his heart. Because everything else to do with external
worship of God, man can do it against his will, but he cannot believe if he
does not want to believe. So, the mind of a believer is not obliged to adhere
to the truth by rational necessity, as is the case with human knowledge: it
is moved by the will” (”Commentary on Rom, ad loc.”)

However, in order to live by faith, in addition to internal assent external pro-
fession of faith is required; man is made up of body and soul and therefore
he tends by nature to express his inner convictions externally; when the ho-
nor of God or the good of one’s neighbor requires it, one even has an obliga-
tion to profess one’s faith externally. For example, in the case of persecution
we are obliged to profess our faith, even at the risk of life, if, on being interro-
gated about our beliefs, our silence would lead people to suppose that we
did not believe or that we did not hold our faith to be the true faith and our bad
example would cause others to fall away from the faith. However, external pro-
fession is an obligation not only in extreme situations of that kind. In all situa-
tions — be they ordinary or exceptional — God will always help us to confess
our faith boldly (cf. Mt 10:32-33; Lk 12:8).

******************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


4 posted on 02/16/2013 9:44:36 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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