February 14, 2016 — First Sunday of Lent
Literally speaking, “Deuteronomy,” as in the Book of Deuteronomy, means “Second Law.” This Old Testament Book from which our First Reading is drawn actually consists of three sermons delivered to the Israelites by Moses. Interestingly, in German, this book is called just Mose, drawing the name from the opening line of the Book which states, quite simply, “These are the words of Moses.”
In today’s reading Moses speaks not just to the Israelites, but to us as well, as is always the case with Holy Scripture. Moses makes reference to giving of one’s first fruits. Specifically he says, “Therefore, I have now brought you the first fruits of the products of the soil which you, O Lord, have given me, and having set them before the Lord, your God, you shall bow down in his presence.”
Giving of first fruits is a way to acknowledge and honor God because it provides the Lord with His portion first, before any is used for one’s self. That, of course, is an important aspect of stewardship, as challenging as that may be. Moses points out that it is more than giving first fruits, however. He recognizes that all comes from God, and we are called to return this first portion in thanksgiving for God’s grace and love and blessings.
Moses would also remind us that giving must come from the heart, with a true attitude of gratitude. It is part of the way we worship the Lord by being stewards of His gifts.