Lent 1, Year C: Deuteronomy 26:1-11
The appointed lesson for this coming Sunday, the first Sunday in Lent, Year C, is Deuteronomy 26:1-11. The passage is about bringing some of the harvest fruits and offering them to God. It is about intentionally remembering God's mighty acts on behalf of us, raising up the people of Israel from meager beginnings.
In the theology of Deuteronomy, full life and full joy come from keeping covenant, from keeping God in the place of covenant-lord (suzerain). With God as covenant lord, we are freed from selfishness and egocentricity. With our fellow human beings as co-partners (co-vassals) in the covenant, we are freed to enjoy full human mutuality with our friends and neighbors.
Notice how Deuteronomy 26 charges us to recall and recite our history as God's people. No matter how much we may prosper, keeping ourselves focused on God's grace connects us to the divine source of our life. It charges and empowers us spiritually, allows us to grow in discipleship.
Along with reciting the faith history, bringing offerings from the harvest helps us strengthen our recognition of God's covenantal suzerainty ("lordship"). Deuteronomy 26 makes clear that God is lord of nature and physicial sustenance, not just lord of history. In this theology of Deuteronomy, we make God lord of every facet of existence. We don't compartmentalize life, recognizing God's power in one part but not in another.
The communal dimension of all this is central. A proper "vertical" relationship with God generates proper "horizontal" relationships within community. Verse 11 mentions the extended household, the the Levite, and the alien. These are core societal elements out of which Israel as an entire people is built up. The covenant of Deuteronomy upholds these elements, including the "weakest links" at society's edge. The good life is a shared journey, where we all recognize each other's full humanity and draw strength from our God-given mutuality.