The first reading for this Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time brings to mind the reading from Ezekiel 33:2-6:
Ben Adam, speak to the children of the people, tell them: When I bring the sword/Horeb upon a land, the people of the land might take a man from among them, and set him for their watchman. If, when he sees the sword/Horeb come upon the land, he blow the horn, and warn the people; whosoever hears the sound of the horn, and does not take warning, if the sword/Horeb come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head… If the watchman see the sword/Horeb come, and does not blow the horn, the people will not be warned, the sword do comes, and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his rebellion, but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.
This is the clear lesson of the first reading and the Gospel for this Sunday. In the first reading, Malachi means this passage for the priests. In the second reading, Jesus means the passage for the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Horeb is the Hebrew word for a sword, and it is where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Our priests also, receive training in the word of God, the words of Horeb, and they must present that word to the people, even when that word is not popular.
In the first reading we read of the priests:
You have turned aside from the way, and have caused many to falter by your instruction; you have made void the Social Contract of Levi, says the Personal Name of the Great Procession of the Sky. I, have made you contemptible before all the people, since you do not keep my ways, but show partiality in your decisions. Have we not all the one father? Has not the one God created us? Why do we break faith with one another, violating the Social Contract of our fathers?
What is the Social Contract of Levi? The context makes this clear. “Aaron was a symbol for a strong priesthood, as can be seen from the Dead Sea Scrolls… Only the sons of Aaron should “administer judgment and wealth.” “Rabbi Hillel, the great liberal sage, praised Aaron as peace-loving, a man of goodwill, who wanted to teach his people the Torah.”
So, we read in our first reading about the violation of the Social Contract of Aaron, of Levi. “You do not keep my ways, but show partiality in your decisions. Have we not all the one father? Has not the one God created us? Why do we break faith with one another?”
It is this showing partiality, favoring the rich over the poor, that has Malachi upset. It is this showing partiality, favoring the rich over the poor, that has God upset with the priesthood. In the Gospel Jesus tells us of the grammarians and the Pharisees/Separate Ones, “Do and guard all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. They preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.”
Today, 5% of the population brings home 50% of all income, with 20% of the population bringing home half of all income. This comes from the Department of Commerce. The richest 20% of the population controls 85% of all net worth. Partly as a result, the US has 5% of the world population and 25% of the world’s prison population. Some 50.2 million people live in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children.
Have we not all the one father? Has not the one God created us? Malachi asks the question well. If we all have the same father, we are all his children. In Revelations 12:17 it states, “The Taanah became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s Mitzvah and bear witness to Jesus.”
If we keep God’s Mitzvah, his commandments, and bear witness to Jesus, not just in words, but in words and action, we are all offspring of the woman, Our Blessed Virgin. If we have Our Blessed Virgin as our Mother and God as our Father, we are all sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters.
Our word, nation, comes from the same root as nativity. It means people who are born together, brothers and sisters. As a nation, we follow the will of God by being peacemakers, one with another, defending each other’s welfare. We are E Pluribus Unum. An attack against any one is an attack upon all.
Brothers and sisters do not allow brothers and sisters to go hungry. Brothers and sisters do not allow one another to go without food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, or safe transportation. This is the Social Contract of Aaron/the Levites, and this is the Social Contract of Moses, Horeb, and the cross of Jesus Christ.
This is what our priests must teach. They are the watchman. This is what we must follow. If we do not, we are not children of our Blessed Virgin Mary, or our Father/God. If we are not the adopted children of God, the alternative is not good. Please, let us be children of Our Blessed Virgin and our Father/God.