16 July 2008

A Living Word (III): Learning from others: Jews

The interior of the Irish Jewish Museum on Walworth Road, off Dublin’s South Circular Road

Patrick Comerford

The date for Easter this year is so early that many Christians probably did not notice the later date for Passover this year, from 19 to 28 April.

Passover is the principal Jewish festival. It reminds us all of the principles that we cannot be free to worship God and to have a loving relationship with God unless we are free ourselves. Passover is a reminder that civil, political and religious rights are inseparable.

In a similar way, the second great Jewish festival, Pentecost, is a celebration both of the freedom the Exodus brings and the new covenant with God that it leads to.

The Jewish celebration of Pentecost is a reminder of God’s great and generous provision for us. As a Christian, of course, my celebration of Pentecost each year reminds me of God’s bountiful generosity in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But the Jewish celebration of Pentecost also serves to remind me that when God meets my needs God is aware of both my spiritual and my physical needs, and that I cannot expect those needs to be met unless I also want God to be generous in providing for the needs of others.

The third great Jewish festival, the Feast of Tabernacles, is a beautiful reminder of the beauty of God’s creation. I cannot live in this world and think that it is only there to meet my needs and demands. It has been entrusted to my care, to our care, and we have a responsibility for that creation, not just as a fashion statement, but because God asks us to take care of it. We are all God’s partners in his great plan for creation.

This contribution to A Living Word was first broadcast on 16 July 2008 on RTÉ Radio 1. A Living Word is broadcast Monday to Friday at 6:40 a.m. as part of Risin Time with Maxi and repeated Tuesday to Saturday at 12:58 a.m. as part of Late Date. A Living Word is Radio 1’s long-standing two-minute daily meditation. The archives are available at:http://www.rte.ie/radio1/alivingword/1179969.html

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological College

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