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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (HOSEA 8:4-7, 11-13)

THEY SOW THE WIND, THEY WILL REAP THE WHIRLWIND.

Thus says the Lord:
They have set up kings, but not with my consent,
and appointed princes, but without my knowledge.
Out of their own silver and gold they have made idols,
which are doomed to destruction.
I spurn your calf, Samaria,
my anger blazes against it.
(How long will it be before they purge themselves of this,
the sons of Israel?)
A workman made the thing,
this cannot be God!
Yes, the calf of Samaria shall go up in flames.
They sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind;
their wheat will yield no ear,
the ear will yield no flour,
or, if it does, foreigners will swallow it.
Ephraim has built altar after altar,
they have only served him as an occasion for sin.
Were I to write out the thousand precepts of my Law for him,
they would be paid no more attention than those of a stranger.
They love sacrificing; right, let them sacrifice!
They love meat; right, let them eat it!
The Lord takes no pleasure in these.
He is now going to remember their iniquity
and punish their sins;
they will have to go back to Egypt.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

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3rd APRIL, RESPONSORIAL PSALM (PSALM 105)

R. O Lord, remember me
out of the love you have for your people.

1. They fashioned a calf at Horeb
and worshipped an image of metal,
exchanging the God who was their glory
for the image of a bull that eats grass. (R.)

2. They forgot the God who was their saviour,
who had done such great things in Egypt,
such portents in the land of Ham,
such marvels at the Red Sea. (R.)

3. For this he said he would destroy them,
but Moses, the man he had chosen,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn back his anger from destruction. (R.)

ACCLAMATION

Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life; you have the message of eternal life.

 

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3rd APRIL, BIBLE READING (EXODUS 32:7-14)

DO NOT BRING THIS DISASTER ON YOUR PEOPLE.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have apostasised. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made a themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshipped it and offered it sacrifice. ‘Here is your God, Israel,’ they have cried, ‘who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.”

But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your wrath blaze against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and mighty hand? Why let the Egyptians say, ‘Ah, it was in treachery that he brought them out, to do them to death in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth’? Leave your burning wrath; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants to whom by your own self you swore and made this promise: I will make your offspring as many as the stars of heaven, and all this land which I promised I will give to your descendants, and it shall be their heritage for ever.” So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had
threatened.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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15th FEBRUARY, RESPONSORIAL PSALM (PSALM 105)

R. O Lord, remember us
out of the love you have for your people.

1. Our sin is the sin of our fathers;
we have done wrong, our deeds have been evil.
Our fathers when they were in Egypt
paid no heed to your wonderful deeds. (R.)

2. They fashioned a calf at Horeb
and worshipped an image of metal,
exchanging the God who was their glory
for the image of a bull that eats grass. (R.)

3. They forgot the God who was their saviour,
who had done such great things in Egypt,
such portents in the land of Ham,
such marvels at the Red Sea. (R.)

ALLELUIA

Alleluia, alleluia!
Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Alleluia!

 
 

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15th FEBRUARY, BIBLE READING (1 KINGS 12:26-32; 13:33-34)

JEROBOAM MADE TWO GOLDEN CALVES.

Jeroboam thought to himself, “As things are, the kingdom will revert to the House of David. If this people continues to go up to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, the people’s heart will turn back again to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will put me to death.”

So the king thought this over and then made two golden calves; he said to the people, “You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, Israel; these brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” He set up one in Bethel and the people went in possession all the way to Dan in front of the other. He set up the temple of the high places and appointed priests from ordinary families, who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam also instituted a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth of the month, like the feast that was kept in Judah, and he went up to the altar.

That was how he behaved in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made; and at Bethel he put the priests of the high places he had established.

Jeroboam did not give up his wicked ways after this incident, but went on appointing priests for the high places from the common people. He consecrated as priests of the high places any who wished to be. Such conduct made the House of Jeroboam a sinful House, and caused its ruin and extinction from the face of the earth.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
 

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THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MANKIND AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: MOSES AND THE COVENANT

“THE MAKING OF THIS CONTRACT WITH GOD WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT FREE DECISION MADE BY THE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM SINCE ABRAHAM HIMSELF FIRST ANSWERED THE CALL OF GOD IN CHALDEA.”

“After their miraculous escape from the Egyptians the Israelites wandered in the desert and the wilderness for three months. At Mount Sinai God and the Israelites made a covenant or agreement binding upon both of them.

YOU SHALL BE TO ME A HOLY NATION

The agreement was made in the midst of wonderful signs which proved to the Israelites the reality of God’s presence among them. God spoke to Moses from the mountaintop: ‘Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: You have seen what I have done to the Egyptians, how I carried you upon the wings of eagles, and have taken you to myself. If therefore you will hear my voice, and keep my covenant, you shall be my peculiar possession above all people: for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to me a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation. These are the words thou shalt speak to the children of Israel.’ (Exodus 19:3-6).

Moses delivered God’s message to the people and they replied: ‘All that the Lord has spoken, we will do’ (Exodus 19:8). When Moses told God that the Israelites were willing to become God’s people, God commanded the people to sanctify themselves and prepare for the coming of the Lord on the third day.

FIRE AND SMOKE

On the third day the Lord came to Sinai to speak to Moses in the hearing of the people. ‘And when Moses had brought them forth to meet God from the place of the camp, they stood at the bottom of the mount. And all Mount Sinai was on smoke: because the Lord was come down upon it in fire, and the smoke arose from it as out of a furnace. And all the mount was terrible. And the sound of the trumpet grew by degrees louder and louder, and was drawn out to a greater length; Moses spoke, and God answered him. And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, in the very top of the mount: and he called Moses unto the top thereof. And when he was gone up thither, He said to him: Go down, and charge the people: lest they should have a mind to pass the limits to see the Lord, and a very great multitude of them should perish. The priests also that come to the Lord, let them be sanctified; lest he strike them.

‘And Moses said to the Lord: The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai: for thou didst charge, and command, saying: Set limits about the mount, and sanctify it. And the Lord said to him: Go, get thee down. And thou shalt come up, thou and Aaron with thee; but let not the priests and the people pass the limits, nor come up to the Lord, lest He kill them. And Moses went down to the people and told them all.

THE 10 COMMANDMENTS

‘And the Lord spoke all these words: I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them. I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. And showing mercy unto thousands to them that love me and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that shall take the name of the Lord his God in vain. Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days shalt thou labour, and shalt do all thy works. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work on it, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.

‘Honour thy father and thy mother, that thou mayest be long-lived upon the land which the Lord thy God will give thee.

‘Thou shalt not kill.

‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.

‘Thou shalt not steal.

‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house; neither shalt thou desire his wife, nor his servant, nor his handmaid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his.

‘And all the people saw the voices and the flames, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mount smoking: and being terrified and struck with fear, they stood afar off, saying to Moses: Speak thou to us and we will hear. Let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die’ (Exodus 19:17 – 20:19).

AN ATMOSPHERE OF WONDER AND FEAR

To impress the Israelites with the solemnity of the contract they were making with Him, God manifested His presence by lightning and thunder and black clouds. To convince them of His holiness and power they were forbidden to ascend the mountain.

This encounter of the Israelites with God at Sinai is one of the most awe-inspiring in the history of man. On this occasion not only does God speak to the prophet Moses but He speaks in the hearing of all the people, and the people are so struck with fear at hearing the voice of God sounding clear over the thunder and the trumpets that they beseech God to speak to them directly no longer.

In this atmosphere of wonder and fear God proclaimed His Ten Commandments. By accepting these Commandments the Israelites bound themselves to worship only the one true God and to abstain from idolatry, the worship of images. Moses ratified the contract between God and the people by sprinkling the blood of sacrificed beasts on the altar and on the people. The contract was sealed, as it were, in blood.

THEY FREELY CHOSE GOD

The making of this contract with God was the most important free decision made by the children of Abraham since Abraham himself first answered the call of God in Chaldea. By it they became God’s chosen and favoured people, a priestly kingdom through which and in which the one true God would be properly worshipped, a priestly kingdom through which salvation would come to the world. It is significant that this solemn ratified covenant was not made until Israel had become a numerous people, a nation, and that it was made by the free decisions of all the people. In the garden of paradise Adam and Eve, misled by the devil, freely deserted God. At Mount Sinai the Israelites, under the inspired leadership of Moses, freely chose God, the one true God Who had freely chosen them.

THE MOSAIC LAW

In addition to the Ten Commandments Moses also gave the people other laws which were intended to make practical the general moral principles contained in the Decalog [the 10 Commandments].

It has been noticed by historians that many of the prescriptions found in the Mosaic Law resemble laws found in the codes of other Oriental peoples, especially the Babylonians and the Egyptians. It is possible that Moses incorporated in this code laws which came down to the people from some older code. But the important thing about the Mosaic code is that it is all placed in the framework of the Ten Commandments. This gives it a quality of uniqueness which is found in no other ancient code of laws.

INHERENT MONOTHEISM

The most striking characteristic of the Mosaic Law is its inherent monotheism. The Israelites are to worship no other God but Jahweh, the one true God. They are to avoid the polytheistic and idolatrous practices of other nations. It is true that the Israelites will need a long time and many severe divine chastisements to rid their minds of the idea that other divinities exist besides Jahweh. But in the end the monotheism of the Decalog will triumph and the people will recognise the existence of no God but Jahweh. Through the Israelites the knowledge of the existence of the one true God will be restored to the human race.

INSISTENCE ON SPIRITUAL HOLINESS

Also striking is the insistence of the Decalog on internal or spiritual holiness. The Decalog condemns not only adultery and theft, it condemns even internal thought of adultery and theft. For it says not only ‘Thou shalt not steal’ but also ‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house’; not only ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ but also ‘Thou shalt not desire thy neighbour’s wife.’

THROUGH THE ISRAELITES THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE EXISTENCE OF THE ONE TRUE GOD WILL BE RESTORED TO THE HUMAN RACE.

It is clear that the Mosaic Law was intended to bring men back to God, not only externally through the regulation of their outward behaviour but also internally through the purifying of their inmost thoughts and desires. It served thus to preserve them from the polytheism and idolatry of their neighbours and to lead them back to God in purity and holiness. In the field of ethics and holiness it surpasses all previous legislative codes. In this field it represents a divine revelation. It represents God calling man to return to his Father’s house. Through the Mosaic code man is given another chance to be what he was meant to be from the very beginning, a child of God, with his whole life centred in God. Until a new and a higher covenant shall come, the law of Moses is the moral code which binds men to God.

UNTIL A NEW AND A HIGHER COVENANT SHALL COME, THE LAW OF MOSES IS THE MORAL CODE WHICH BINDS MEN TO GOD.

Of course, the mere making of this contract with God did not of itself make the people perfect. The covenant was the means to perfection, the way to perfection. Both God and man would still have to labour to make the code the real expression of perfection in the lives of the people.

THE GOLDEN CALF

This is clearly seen in the regrettable behaviour of the Israelites shortly after the ratification of the covenant. Moses stayed at the summit of Mount Sinai for forty days, conversing with God. Deprived of his leadership for even this short time, the people relapsed into their former ignorant and sinful ways. They induced Aaron, the high priest, to make for them a golden calf which should represent Jahweh. This was in direct disobedience to the commandment that they were not to make any graven image to represent God. It indicated that the people were still influenced by the idolatry of the Babylonians and the Egyptians.

THE WEAKNESS OF MEN DELAYED THE FINAL FRUITION OF THE CONTRACT.

God was angry with them and sent Moses to reprove the people. Moses appealed to God not to destroy the people utterly, and God granted his request. But God knew that He was dealing with a stiff-necked and stubborn people. Through the Israelites God had entered into a contract with mankind. But He knew that He would have to purify men even more before He could save men from their weakness and folly. At Sinai, man through the Israelites entered into a contract with God. But the weakness of men will delay the final fruition of the contract.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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29th JULY, BIBLE READING (EXODUS 32:15-24, 30-34)

THIS PEOPLE HAS COMMITTED A GRAVE SIN, MAKING THEMSELVES A GOD OF GOLD.

Moses made his way back down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, tablets inscribed on both sides, inscribed on the front and on the back. These tablets were the work of God, and the writing on them was God’s writing engraved on the tablets.

Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting. “There is the sound of battle in the camp,” he told Moses. Moses answered him:
“No song of victory is this sound,
no wailing for defeat this sound;
it is the sound of chanting that I hear.”

As he approached the camp and saw the calf and the groups dancing, Moses’ anger blazed. He threw down the tablets he was holding and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He seized the calf they had made and burned it, grinding it into powder which he scattered on the water; and he made the sons of Israel drink it. To Aaron Moses said, “What has this people done to you, for you to bring such a great sin on them?” “Let not my lord’s anger blaze like this,” Aaron answered. “You know yourself how prone this people is to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us a god to go at our head; this Moses, the man who brought us up from Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So I said to them, ‘Who has gold?’ and they took it off and brought it to me. I threw it into the fire and out came this calf.”

On the following day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a grave sin. But now I shall go up to the Lord: perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” And Moses returned to the Lord. “I am grieved,” he cried, “this people has committed a grave sin, making themselves a god of gold. And yet, if it pleased you to forgive this sin of theirs…! But if not, then blot me out from the book that you have written.” The Lord answered Moses, “It is the man who has sinned against me that I shall blot out from my book. Go now, lead the people to the place of which I told you. My angel shall go before you but, on the day of my visitation, I shall punish them for their sin.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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