See the source image   Pentecost 20 – Tuesday Devotion

Readings:  Deuteronomy 19:1-20 and Matthew 15:1-20 

Deuteronomy 19:15:  “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed.  Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.”

Matthew 15: 18-20:  “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” 

 

“On the Witness Stand”

“Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in the matters pending before this court, so help you God?”

I’ve heard that several times in the many DVD programs of the popular TV show, “Perry Mason”.  Yes, I’m an ‘addict’ of those types of shows.  A suspect commits a crime. Then the court convenes and finally they incarcerate the criminal.  Case closed.

One thing that Perry Mason, as well as the District Attorney Hamilton Burger, do is to get their witnesses to testify in court.  As each witness for either the prosecution or the defense is sworn in, the verbiage remains the same.  “Do you promise to tell the truth?”  

We expect that of any and all witnesses.  If they lie in court and are discovered, they are charged with perjury.  A person on trial wants the truth told.  If he is innocent, that truth will exonerate him.  If he has a capable trial attorney, he will hear a favorable verdict.  

But if he is guilty, the prosecution will have the truth to convict him of his crime.  

We hear a lot about the outcome of various trials in our court system today.  Perhaps you have served as a juror to hear such cases and weigh the evidence to produce a unanimous verdict.  That’s doing your civic duty.  It’s much like what God would expect any of the Children of Israel to do as they would stand in the defense of someone who was wronged.

The testimony of two or three witnesses establishes a matter.  If it was only one person, there could be collusion.  But the court values the witness of two separate witnesses, attesting to the truth of their witness. Today, not only a human witness, but video tapes can place a person at the scene of a crime.  Forensic evidence produced by a police laboratory can also bear witness to show that the accused did (or did not) commit a crime.

Jesus continued to instruct the people in His day about the teachings of the Torah.  He included this book of Deuteronomy.  Recall that this book often serves as the summary and explanation of the Torah even as Jesus would use three passages from this book against the temptations of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11).  

God calls us to bear true testimony about our neighbor (stating the Eighth Commandment positively).  As explained in the Catechism, we are to defend our neighbor and speak well of him.  We are to explain his actions in the kindest way, putting the best construction on his situation.

But if he did wrong then we obey those in authority to tell the truth.  We are to be faithful witness so God’s justice is done.  God’s justice is to visit the iniquity of those who hate Him as well as his neighbor and to bring him in context of the law.  

But as a faithful witness of Christ, we also speak well of Him to our neighbor.   We also explain Jesus’ actions of love and mercy to him.  That’s why we hear from the many witnesses in the New Testament who affirm for us the truth of God’s salvation in Christ.  Now we get to tell others the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life of the world!

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, we know that what comes from our lips is generated from our hearts.  But we know sin infects us and poisons our words, causing us to be untrue witnesses.  Forgive us for our false witness and wicked testimony. Bless us to hear and witness the truth of Your grace.  Embolden us to tell of the truth of Jesus’ love for all.  Help us when we are called to give testimony on behalf of our neighbor, and protect our neighbor’s heart from committing sin.  Bless all who serve in our judicial system that they may discern the truth and deliver justice according to Your will.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Our Father…

The grace of the Lord + Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you. Amen.