“This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.” This is quite the compliment to bestow on a nation. It is important that we recognize that this is not meant for the individual, but for the entire community. Moses is going to give the people the statutes and decrees that God has commanded him to give. But what are the people to do with them?
When we receive something, we may think that we do not have to do anything. We stand passively as someone else gives us something, whether it is a gift, a hug, or a compliment. But there is something that we do when we receive something, we accept. We accept by extending our hand, by saying, “Yes,” or by sincerely thanking the one who has given the gift.
What God has given through Moses is an invitation to participate in what He has in store for us. The laws are a call to personal responsibility, to fraternity, and ultimately to community. If we are living in community, in true community where neighbor looks out for neighbor, then the following of God’s law will not be a burden, but a welcome framework to guide and orient our lives to God.
In today’s Gospel we learn that Jesus came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law. And truly that is what Jesus did. His time with us on Earth is an example of how we are to treat our neighbor. Later in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus gives us two commandments: to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Not different laws from the time of Moses, just different words. Do we accept?
All of us will make mistakes, we will all fall. But to be a great nation, a great people, we must become a community that moves toward the Kingdom of God. Being a community requires that we look beyond ourselves. A wise and intelligent nation is not so because it contains many people with high IQs or many educational accomplishments. It is wise and intelligent because it does not repeat the mistakes of the past, and constantly moves toward a more just society, centered on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. A nation is wise and intelligent because it takes care of its entire people, not just a select few. When we say “Yes” to God’s gift we say “Yes” to our neighbor’s call for help, to community, and to love. Let us accept God’s gift and share it with others.