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The Bible In A Year: Day 67

Numbers 19-20
Psalm 64
Mark 16

Numbers 19-20

Chapter 19 has some more regulations regarding ceremonial uncleanliness and how to resolve uncleanliness. Touching dead things usually rendered someone unclean for seven days and even touching dead animals made you unclean until night time.

In chapter 20 there’s a very pivotal moment in the desert wanderings. When they arrived back in the wilderness of zin the people begin to complain yet again, and lament the fact that they didn’t just die when God killed the rebels a little while ago. They complain so loudly that Moses fears another rebellion and goes with Aaron to the tabernacle to ask God to calm the people.

Moses is instructed to take his rod and go with his brother to the rock and tell it to bring forth water. They had previously drank water from a rock and so this time he was to speak to the rock, instead of striking it like he did last time. But when Moses and Aaron gathered the people together he berated them and said “must we” bring water from this rock? Instead of saying it was God giving them water, he takes credit as if it were his doing.

For this infraction, God informs Moses that he will also die before entering the promised land.

The Israelites arrive at the border of the Kingdom of Edom, the nation founded by Jacob’s brother Esau. They ask for the ability to pass through the land in peace, and the envoy even calls the Edomites “brother” or kinsmen . But the Edomites refuse this gesture and tell them they shall not pass through.

We close out this reading from Numbers with the death of Aaron. God says he will also die before entering the promised land because of Moses striking the rock. Aaron, Eleazar and Moses all go up the mountain, and at the top of the mountain they strip Aaron of his high priest garments and place them on his son, and then Aaron dies at the top of the mountain.

Mark 16

So,e of the women who followed Jesus go to the tomb on Sunday morning to anoint and prepare Christ’s body. He was wrapped in a linen burial cloth prior to burial, but since it was almost sundown on Good Friday they didn’t have time to do all the normal burial preparations for that time.

Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday: We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.

CCC 2174

As they’re talking about the heavy stone that sealed the tomb, and wondering how they’re going to open it, they look up and see the stone is already rolled away and the tomb is open. Entering the tomb Mary Magdalene sees a young man (Matthew refers to him as am angel), and he says to her that Christ is risen. He instructed her to go “tell his disciples and Peter” the news. Peter is singled out here the same as he’s listed first by name anytime the apostles are listed in the gospels to show he’s the leader.

The book of mark closes out here with an epilogue of sorts. It tells of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and then to two of his disciples, both of whom related these appearances back to the eleven surviving apostles, but they didn’t believe their reports. Then Jesus appeared to the eleven and upbraided them for their unbelief. He then gives them a commission to preach the gospel and baptize, before ascending to heaven.

It’s important to note that in both Mark and Matthew, where Jesus gives the Great Commission before ascending into heaven, he also commands them to baptize along with preaching. He didn’t say “just tell them about me and then lead them in prayer” he specifically tells the apostles to baptize because baptism is important. It is the gate through which we enter into relationship with God in the New Covenant, the same way circumcision initiated you into the Old Covenant family.

Our Lord tied the forgiveness of sins to faith and Baptism: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that “we too might walk in newness of life.”

CCC 977

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Numbers 21-22
Psalm 65
Luke 1:1-25

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