The Old Testament lesson from Deuteronomy is taken from the second address to the Israelites by Moses in the wilderness. He is expounding upon the Law established in God’s covenant with them. A foundational element of the covenantal Law concerns the proper worship of God. God’s people are not to rely upon pagan diviners. Rather, they are to know the God will raise up true prophets from among them, prophets whose words will be accomplished through God’s own purposes. Moses’ words speak to us today as an affirmation of the sufficiency of God’s Word, as it is received and taught within the household of God; for us, this means the Church.
The passage that we read from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church should also hearten us. Often we think that if only we knew more, if we had more knowledge about scripture and matters of faith we would be somehow closer to God. Paul writes, “Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but everyone who loves God is known by him.” Three intertwined truths are contained here: our claims to knowledge are futile (even misguided); love, our love of God, is essential; through that love we are known by God. Our being known is what important to God-and it happens when we offer ourselves to God in worship. The Psalmist writes, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This means that our desire to worship, please, and follow the commandments of God is the route to wisdom.
In our gospel lesson, Jesus enters the synagogue at Capernaum and teaches there. All who hear him are astonished at his authority. Someone with an “unclean spirit” enters the synagogue, and Jesus heals him, freeing him from the impediment that has separated him from God. Thus, he is freed to worship God with his whole being.
What are the distractions and impediments that keep you from worship? I hope that as often as you are able you will come and join with the Body in worshipping God. Love builds up community, Paul tells us-and worship will build up our love!