Continuing from the first part of Micah, chapter six, we come to the conclusion offered by the prophet on the question of what should we do to be just, in the right, or “good” in God’s eyes. Earlier the prophet recounts salvation history in brief, then asks a key question. With verse 7 the questions continue:
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with myriad streams of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my crime,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
“Love is a choice,” two friends of mine once titled the worship aid at their wedding. We sometimes fail in the choice to love, but that does not negate our promise. In the eyes of God, can we say that we love the good? That last key line of Micah 6:8 is vital: we walk with God, but we walk in humility. We walk prepared to pick ourselves up after a stumble, or determined to seek God if and when we feel lost.
An earlier edition of the Rite of Penance just gave verses 1-6 of this chapter as an option, but the latest version adds these, up to almost the end of the chapter. An examination of conscience, if you will, for criminals, liars, and cheats:
The LORD cries aloud to the city
(It is prudent to fear your name!):
Hear, O tribe and city assembly,
Am I to bear criminal hoarding
and the accursed short ephah?
Shall I acquit crooked scales,
bags of false weights?
You whose wealthy are full of violence,
whose inhabitants speak falsehood
with deceitful tongues in their mouths!
I have begun to strike you
with devastation because of your sins.
You shall eat, without being satisfied,
food that will leave you empty;
What you acquire, you cannot save;
what you do save, I will deliver up to the sword.
You shall sow, yet not reap,
tread out the olive, yet pour no oil,
crush the grapes, yet drink no wine.
What a warning. To think that a person won’t reap the rewards of their work: that’s rather un-American. Would an American congregation be prepared to receive this reading? The homily connected with this passage may well be a barnburner. What do you think?