A lot of people start daydreaming during the First Reading at Mass on Sunday. They sometimes complain that the Old Testament just doesn’t appeal to them: names are hard to pronounce, nobody knows where all those strange places are, and the stories seem too out-of-date to be practical.
Well, I have to admit they’re right about the weird names and places! (Of course, I’ll bet an ancient Hebrew would be pretty confused with Schexnayder, Melancon, or Hebert, not to mention Atchafalaya, Natchitoches, and Maringouin!)
But such skeptics are dead wrong about Old Testament stories being out-of-date or pointless. Sibling rivalry may be as old as Cain and Abel (see Genesis 4:1ff.), but it hasn’t died out yet. The sin of racism was as much a problem for Hebraeo-Egyptians (Ex 1:1-14) as it is for African-Americans. There was street-violence back then (Jdg 9:25), ruinous capitalism (Sir 31:5-6), and corrupt government officials (Is 1:23). King David (2 Sam 11:1ff.) wasn’t the last leader to have a sexual affair in his palace when he committed murderous adultery with Bathsheba! And so on. I’m pretty dense sometimes, but give me credit for noticing after almost four millennia we still haven’t learned to keep the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17) very well. We need to stop daydreaming during the First Reading!