Exodus 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20b
Today’s readings encourage us to meditate on the holiness of God. The reading from Exodus exhorts the children of Israel to sanctify themselves in order to encounter God, whose creative and liberating power is expressed through awesome natural phenomena. The prophet Moses is given a special role as a mediator between God – the ‘One who is’, the Lifegiver – and the people. The Psalm extols the blessedness of the liberator God. The Gospel reading is somewhat more difficult to interpret. It comes just after the Parable of the Sower and seems to imply that the intention of the parables is to make the Gospel obscure to those who refuse to accept it. Scholarly research on the parables shows us that, in their original context, the parables of Jesus were not intended to obscure his proclamation of the Kingdom but rather to communicate it with images and experiences familiar to people in his time and culture (a prodigal son, a Samaritan, a sower, etc.) What this passage, in fact, emphasises is that the message of the parables is closed to those who resist it: those who refuse to accept that a Samaritan (a despised outcaste) could do good or that a father could show such wonderful generosity to a son who has been feckless and disrespectful. The message of the parables is of the overabundant generosity, indeed the holiness, of God’s Kingdom. This message echoes the Psalm: ‘Glory and praise forever!’ to our holy and merciful God.
Robert Gascoigne is a parishioner at St Brigid’s, Marrickville. He is a theologian who taught for many years at Australian Catholic University.