Deuteronomy 26 describes a liturgy in which the worshiper presents the first fruits of the harvest in the promised land, reciting the story of Israel’s historic travels and escape from Egypt. Today this is observed among Jewish people as part of the feast of weeks or booths. It celebrates the Lord who keeps his promises and cares for his people.
Luke’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus, fresh from the affirmation of his baptism, being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. If he is the beloved Son, will not God provide for him richly, allowing him to use divine power to make bread from stones? Will the Lord not protect Jesus from all harm, even if he were to leap from a great height onto the rocks below? Would not God want him to rule over all the kingdoms of the earth? Jesus has a different sense of what it means to be the Beloved of God. Rather than presume upon this relationship to provide material power, prosperity, and safety, Jesus is determined to be faithful and obedient, trusting above all else God’s word to him and wherever it leads him.
Speaking to the Christian community in Rome, Paul describes a relationship of trusting Jesus Christ: by calling upon his name we are saved. Here, to be saved is to believe and trust Jesus as the one who has been raised from the dead. Those who trust will not be “put to shame.” Their trust will be rewarded by the love and power of God, just as Jesus’ own trust in God was rewarded with resurrection.
Comment: What does it mean to be “saved?” It means here and now that I have a relationship with God, who has made known his love in Christ Jesus and shares his life and purpose with me. My side of this is to listen to and trust God’s word, letting his Spirit lead me as I make my way in this world to serve God. What it does not mean is that I will be spared all difficulty and struggle, living in a “bubble” of divine protection. The Lord may ask me to do hard things, and it is almost inevitable that opposition will arise. And we all face the reality that we are “dust” – fragile beings who are subject to illness and death. In the face of all this, Lord, help us to trust you!