In the liturgy, we're back to reading from the history of ancient Israel. Today's first reading has a rather touching dimension to it. There is a renovation project going on at the Temple. Good sign. There are the levitical priests at their job, scribes, workmen. And an old book comes to light. The priest in charge takes a look at it. It's what we call the book of Deuteronomy: the details of the covenant between God and the people. And the priest quickly realizes that one of the parties has failed to keep its end of the bargain.
When the king is given the report of the day's work, he is also given a report about the book, which is read aloud to him. And the king is struck with grief. He recognizes that while they have maintained all the structures--the kingship, the Temple, the priesthood and the rites--they had lost sight of the actual content of their relationship with God. Centuries later, Jesus would also warn his followers about paying tithes on mint and cumin but neglecting justice and mercy. And more centuries later, it is still a temptation for us to distract ourselves with pious practices to the extent that we forget to honor the Lord himself. I know this happens to me. So today I am asking for a little extra grace to focus on the goodness and graciousness of God. After all, "it is right to give him thanks and praise."