Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Side deck with morning sun creeping in.
When someone resolves that they are going to start at the beginning and read the Bible all the way through, Leviticus almost always puts an end to their resolve. And it's only the third book. Passages from Leviticus are used at weekend Mass only three times in the three year lectionary that we follow and two of those are from the same chapter. It is a book of laws and religious regulations, most of which have no significance for a non-Jewish reader today.
Sunday's first reading is from chapter 19:1-2, 17-18 of Leviticus and, you see, we still skip some verses. But those we keep are powerful: "You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy." Notice God doesn't command us to be as holy as God, but because God is holy.
One point to note is that in the Bible "holy" does not refer to superior moral qualities. Another point is that holiness for God is different from holiness for human beings. When we say that God is holy we mean that God is totally other, completely separate from all that is not Divine. So different that we have no concepts or words that adequately describe the Holy One.
For a human being to be holy means to belong entirely to God, to be designated God's "personal" property. For the author of Leviticus holiness is the result of God's blossoming within us and within our world and making everyone and everything belong to the Holy One.
We don't have to do anything but let it happen.