Mi 6:1-4,6-8; Ps 50:5-6,8-9,16-17,21,23; Mt 12:38-42
“God himself is the judge.”
Only God can be the judge. Only God can see through all our deception. We are so blind and so biased that we cannot be our own judges. Every liturgy we gather at His command. We are the faithful ones who have made a covenant with the LORD by sacrifice. We join the heavens and all the hosts of heaven to proclaim his justice, for God himself is the judge. He does not condemn or rebuke for the mass or office we offer. We do not neglect our liturgical duties. The only question we must ask: Is it all for show? The LORD does not make impossible demands on us, but the LORD does ask some very difficult questions: “Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?” The very fact that the LORD asks these questions reveals his tender love and severe mercy. He does not want us to become completely hypocritical. He does not want us to worship our liturgy and ignore his covenant. The LORD draws up before our eyes the painful truth of our “mere liturgy” and “meaningless worship”. He presents us to ourselves so that we do not become what we adore. The LORD is a jealous God and he wants us, all of us, the whole person: body, mind and spirit. Only the praise that erupts from a thankful heart glorifies God; and to those who go the right way the LORD will show his saving power. Such an honest and transparent relationship with the LORD is the teaching of all the prophets, as Micah cries out, “do the right, love goodness, and walk humbly with your God.” As the Lord Jesus explains to the scribes and Pharisees, God gives the sign we need not the sign we want. Here at the Eucharist we share the living sign of his death and resurrection made available to us who have listened to the greater than Solomon.
The language of litigation dominates this prophecy from Micah. The LORD summons his people to make their pleas to the mountains and the hills. Why make testimony before the mountains and hills? Perhaps, the people have turned away from the LORD and worshiped other gods on these high places. Perhaps, the mountains and hills have seen it all and been around from the beginning. The LORD himself enters his plea against his people and before the mountains, hills and the foundations of the earth as well. He asks the most painful question possible. The LORD asks of Israel the question we are asked by the Lord Jesus at the Good Friday Liturgy: “O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? Answer me!” The prophecy continues with the LORD making his defense. He reminds his people, in the presence of the mountains, hill and foundations; I rescued you from slavery in Egypt. I gave you faithful leaders all through the desert journey. The people respond in similar words to Psalm 116, “How can I repay the LORD for his goodness to me?” With what offering will I be able to please the LORD? The Prophet Micah responds to the “ad absurdum” argument of the people, who make it sound that they can’t do anything to please the LORD. The voice of the prophet echoes throughout our history and into our own souls, “You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” In all honesty, which of these expectations are impossible demands? Perhaps, all of them, or even each of them, if we do not rely upon the grace of God we can do nothing that pleases him or ourselves. However, with the LORD, nothing is impossible.
What preaching is greater than Jonah’s preaching? What wisdom is greater than Solomon’s wisdom? The Prophet Jonah preached among a pagan people, indeed the very enemies of Israel where his audience. They all repented. Solomon the King, at least in the beginning of his reign, offered his people great wisdom in judging the people. They lived in peace. The scribes and Pharisees wanted the Lord Jesus to give an irrefutable sign. They demanded that the Lord Jesus perform some public sign that no one could deny and that all the people could witness. No one saw the actual event of the resurrection, but those he had chosen witnessed and proclaimed, “Jesus is alive!” This was the only sign he promised, and it is the basis of seven signs we celebrate in our lives of faith. All the sacraments make present the power of the cross and resurrection of Christ, Our God. What more could he possibly do for us that he has not already done?