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Moses commands sin to be put to death

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, April 1, 2007

To my mind, no one has yet responded adequately to Xavier Lebec’s charge (“First Down Moses underlies negative attitudes about other religions,” March 27) that “First Down Moses” celebrates religious terrorism. Mark Flanagan (“Greater complexity to ‘honorable’ Moses,” March 30) rightly observes that Nick Bloom’s letter (“Moses was an honorable man,” March 29) more confirms than answers it. But Flanagan’s solution presents a Vatican II severed from the Tradition which gave it life.The Church realized that the Bible contains apparent atrocities long before Vatican II. Eighteen centuries ago, the Church Father Origen wrote that Scripture contains things that “cannot be believed to have happened appropriately and reasonably.” How should we read them? Echoing ancient Tradition, Vatican II reminds us to pay “attention…to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture.” For Christians, this “content and unity” is Jesus Christ. In the light of Christ, what does the command to “kill your brother, your friend and your neighbor” mean? Whom should I kill? Clearly not my enemies, for whom Christ commanded me to pray (Matt 5:44). Clearly not Christ’s enemies, before whom Christ commanded me to put away my sword (Matt 26:52). Who then must be put to death? Christians must hear in Moses’ command St. Paul’s exhortation to “put to death” (Col 3:5) all those sins that we have embraced as brother, friend, and neighbor. We must violently topple these golden calves which we have built and live for the one Lord.It is worth squeezing in one final and suggestive observation. It was the very jewelry taught by the Fathers to signify all that “is true and holy in [other] religions” that was distorted and misshapen into that golden idol. Part of the sin was therefore an abuse of that “ray of truth” which other religions “reflect.” Perhaps my interpretation is unconvincing. But as Lebec insightfully pointed out, “whether or not the story is literally true does not matter as much as the fact that people accept its message as sacred.” The Catholic Church considers the Bible sacred insofar as its message is Christ. A Catholic University honors religious images for the same reason. “First Down Moses” proclaims only that same message ever proclaimed by the Church: Jesus Christ alone is Lord.

Spencer Danielgraduate studentFisher HallMarch 31