Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 119:41-64 (Morning)
Psalm 19, 112 (Evening)
Feast of St. Matthew
Our Psalm this morning expresses an attitude toward law that few Christians embrace today. The Psalmist takes “great comfort” in recalling God’s “judgments of old,” finds “delight” in the “commandments which I have always loved,” and tells God, “Your statues have been like songs to me wherever I have lived as a stranger.”
For the Psalmist, God’s law is a source of comfort, delight, and music. Contemporary Christians often have trouble understanding this attitude, since many of us view “the law” as a test, a burden, or a source of condemnation. We see the law this way because of Paul’s writings (like today’s passage from Romans) and because of the long history of Christian anti-Semitic rhetoric that has tried to distance Christian “grace” from Jewish “righteousness.”
Today we commemorate a saint who resists that tragic separation. Matthew the evangelist shares the Psalmist’s love of law and commandments, and Matthew gives us a record of Christ as a teacher who desired his people to follow divine laws deeply and whole-heartedly. For example, according to the teachings of Christ recorded by Matthew, Christ didn’t want us simply to refrain from physically killing one another, but to eradicate hatred from our hearts.
The Christ remembered by Matthew didn’t want us to find a short-cut to righteousness, but to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and to fulfill a standard of righteousness beyond what most people thought was expected of them. Will we rise to that standard today, in memory of Matthew, and in honor of his memory of Christ?
Written by The Rev. Dr. Lora Walsh, Associate Priest
Lora is passionate about building inclusive communities and nurturing the spirituality of contemplatives-in-action. She holds a PhD in Medieval Christianity and is an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas.