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If we let him, God will walk humbly with us

       I’ve been smitten, lately, with Micah 6:8. I must thank my colleague at school, Carl Hansel, for bringing this pericope to my attention, although he did so in an indirect way. I overheard him quote it to some students one day, and with all the turmoil in the nation’s large cities these days, that pericope came to mind. Thank you, Carl!

      Here is the passage: “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.”

      I like to boil that down to, “Do justice, love goodness and walk humbly with your God.”

      The first thing that strikes me about this passage is the reversal of the manner many of us would have written this passage. Given the premium religious people put on the virtue of love, I’m guessing many would have put the “love goodness” before the “do justice,” thus the sentence would read: “love goodness, do justice…”

      But no, justice comes prior to doing good. Also, note the verb attached to the word ‘justice.” The biblical line says, “Do justice.” The passage does not say, “perform,” or “carry out” or “administer.” Nope. “Do” justice. Do it. Just do it.

      Next, goodness. We are instructed to love it, not to do it. Seems to me this harkens back to the Genesis account of creation where God pronounces creation “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) You and I, then, are to love God’s creation, and that includes doing justice by all our fellow human beings.

      Now for the linchpin that holds the whole pericope together: “Walk humbly with your God.” First, notice the preposition: “with.” Not “to God,” or “behind God,” but “with” God. You and I are created to journey through life, both in this vale and in paradise, “with” God. You parents and grandparents, you know this.

      “What did you do today, Earl?”

      “Well, I took a walk with my granddaughter.”

      “And you, Bob?”

      “Went fishing with my son.”

      It’s the same with God. We walk with God, because God is Emmanuel, always with us. We don’t walk “to” God, because God is already here.

      “Your” God. This is not to be construed in its modern manifestation; as in, “Well, you worship your God and I’ll worship mine.”

      Rather, the nuance is one of marriage. Not that you are married to God, but that the relationship between you and God mirrors the marriage between husband and wife – intimate, secure and peaceful. God is “yours” in exactly the same way the man to whom you are married is “your” husband, or the woman to whom you are married is “your” wife. The issue is not possession, the issue is covenant.

      That leaves “humbly.”

      Right before all this COVID-19 business suspended in-class instruction, I was walking down the hall one day in early March at the conclusion of the school day. Most of the students had cleared the halls. At the far end of the hall a senior couple walked toward me. The girl was to the boy’s right, and the girl was holding the boy’s right arm with her left hand. That is what initially attracted my attention; the norm was for the boy and girl to hold hands, but she was holding his arm in the manner a man would escort a lady to her seat.

      The boy was wearing his jacket (remember, it’s early March), but carrying her coat in his left hand. About 30 feet before we pass one another in the hall, the couple stops. The girl turns her back to the boy and the boy helps the girl into her coat, first one arm and then the other.

      The coat now on, the girl turns, her back is to me, and the boy, a head taller than the girl, places both of his hands atop her shoulders and kisses the top of her head. By now, I am adjacent to this couple, and I can see the faces of both the boy and the girl. They’re both grinning from ear to ear.

      They resume their walk, saying, “Hello, Mr. Plaiss!” as they continue walking down the hall. Right before I turn left to enter the hallway that takes me back to my classroom, I look back at the couple, now at the far end of the hall. They are walking slowly, and her arm is intertwined with his.

      That’s walking humbly, and that’s how I imagine God walks with us.

 

      Deacon Mark Plaiss teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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