The Importance of the Jewishness of Christianity (Lenten Scriptural Commentary #13)
by Erik Ritland
"It is right for us to remember the law and the prophets, meditate on them, and connect with them deep in our heart, just as the people in Daniel’s time did. If we don’t, we suffer the same fate: being left to our own devices and reaping what we sew."
Fully Alive’s Lenten Scriptural Commentary helps Christians get more out of Lent by taking God’s word seriously.
Mostly avoiding personal stories and anecdotes, our commentary dives deeply into the scripture readings for each day and applies them to the broader context of Lent. We use the daily Mass readings from the Catholic lectionary.
If possible, read each passage slowly, taking in each word. If you find that you’ve hurried through a reading, read it over a few more times. Let the words reverberate in your heart. After you’ve let it sink in, read our Lenten Scriptural Commentary.
Monday of the Second Week of Lent
The prophet Daniel speaks of the universal human struggle against doing wrong and its antidote: God’s limitless mercy. Jesus explains God’s radical forgivenes.
Readings: Dn 9:4b-10/Lk 6:36-38
Click here to read the complete text from the USCCB website.
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
(cf Dn 9: 4b-10)
The entirety of this reading touches on the basics of Lent. The universal problem of the human condition that we face during this season – our propensity as humans to do wrong and God’s limitless forgiveness if we ask for it and turn away from the bad things that we do – is laid out for us again, this time in the context of the period of the prophet Daniel.
Just as the Israelites had specific festivals to remember these things, so the Church in its wisdom sets aside this time to especially consider them. There is continuity with God.
This portion points out something that our modern sensibilities sometimes scoff at: respect for the past, for our ancestors. God gave us not just Jesus and the New Testament, but the entirety of the Old Testament to guide us morally. Of course, we need to look at these readings with nuance and historical perspective, and always be aware of genre.
It is right for us to remember the law and the prophets, meditate on them, and connect with them deep in our heart, just as the people in Daniel’s time did. If we don’t, we suffer the same fate: being left to our own devices and reaping what we sew.
Luckily, as the ending of this reading notes, God is always there to forgive us and bring us back into the fold when that happens. More than an ancient story, this is the story of our lives.
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you”
(cf Lk 6: 36-38)
Jesus is clearly out of the Old Testament tradition. Strip away His Jewishness and Jesus becomes incomprehensible.
His teachings are rooted in the Old Testament, more so than many well-intentioned Christians today realize. Hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry like forgiveness of sins, God’s mercy, and forgiving people are all steeped in the Jewish tradition already.
Jesus, by the Christian understanding, simply takes it to its completion.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. The founder of Fully Alive Christian Media, he also created The Minnesota Sport Ramble and is a writer and copy editor for Music in Minnesota. He was Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
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Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.