Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18 (NRSV)
Chapter 19The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Verse 2Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Verse 15You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. Verse 16You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord. Verse 17You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. Verse 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
The readings this week revolve around how God’s people might live in faithful obedience to the Lord. As part of the “Holiness Code” of Leviticus 17 to 26, today’s reading expands the concept of “holiness” beyond any rituals performed by priests in the sanctuary. Because God is holy, all of God’s people are to be holy—set apart and sacred for the sake of the world. The way this holiness is embodied turns out essentially to involve practical applications of the Ten Commandment—providing for the poor (19:9-10), just courts (19:15), and charitable treatment of others (19:16-18). In short, in social interactions, in congregations, in business, in public policies, among family members, or even in our own internal consideration of our neighbors, the Lord commands God’s people to treat one another as would God, whom we represent in the world. Slander, hate, vengeance, and grudges are prohibited for those who are declared holy by God and who follow Jesus.
Lord, it is too easy for me to harbor resentments and hatred against others. Help me to see neighbors near and far as you do—precious beings—and to be representatives of your holy self to them. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.