From the Desk of Deacon Richard….

 

"You shall not molest or oppress an alien." — God

“You shall not molest or oppress an alien.” — God

Dear Parish Family:

You shall not molest or oppress an alien. Our readings today begin with this command from the Lord. Like many of God’s commands, this one does not allow much wiggle room. This command is addressed to “you,” and by you we can safely conclude that God means anyone upon whom His law is enjoined. If we want to enjoy the benefits of friendship with God, we can know that by “you” God means us. “Shall not” forbids us from doing a thing. The concept of “an alien” is used frequently in Biblical writings to mean a person who is outside of our group; one who is not of our people.

We could, at this point, turn to Webster or a good legal dictionary and attempt to discover how precisely we can define “molest or oppress,” and whether or not we can put so fine a point on that definition that it still allows us to wrong others in some way or another while “technically” being within the bounds of God’s command. Many people have done precisely that in the past, and they have done it to the peril of their souls.

The thing that we are forbidden to do is “molest or oppress,” and the only real question in play is what, precisely, God means by “molest or oppress” because, clearly, you and I are not allowed to do that to other people.

We could, at this point, turn to Webster or a good legal dictionary and attempt to discover how precisely we can define “molest or oppress,” and whether or not we can put so fine a point on that definition that it still allows us to wrong others in some way or another while “technically” being within the bounds of God’s command. Many people have done precisely that in the past, and they have done it to the peril of their souls.

The simple truth is this: God gives us simple commands and He asks that we simply follow them.

God’s rules are given to us for our own good; they exist so that we can be better able to know God, to love God, to serve God, and to be with Him forever in heaven. They are not given to us so that we can work to figure out how close to the line we can get without going over. You shall not molest or oppress an alien means exactly that: don’t be jerky with folks you don’t know. It’s mean. And God doesn’t like it.

Honestly, the real question has nothing to do with what, precisely, God means by “molest or oppress.” We all know exactly what He means by that. The real questions is how can Our Heavenly Father so lovingly and patiently give us such simple commands and yet we still mess them up? The answer, of course, is sin.

Sin is a force that lets us take a simple question like, “what is the sum of 2 and 2” and argue vehemently that the answer is 5, without us ever realizing how foolish that answer makes us. Sometimes the best way to avoid sin is by sticking with the simple answers and just being nice to other people… because that’s what God wants us to do.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

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