Today’s readings give us a clear message about God the Father: He protects what’s His. And that means us.
But like any father, he has expectations, too. He wants us to be worth protecting. Yes, He saved His people from the Egyptians and brought them out of slavery. He gave them a rich land flowing with milk and honey. But the first reading from Deuteronomy also quotes Moses as telling these people how to pray to God in thanks: “I have brought you the firstfruits of the products of the soil which you, O Lord, have given me.” Then he tells them to show the Lord that His investment in them was worth it, and to present the fruits of their labor to him with all the respect a child can offer a father.
It’s kind of like what’s supposed to happen after parents make the investment to feed, clothe, shelter and educate their children. Ideally, those children will do something with those gifts and share the fruits of that investment with their parents, whether it be by giving them loving grandchildren upon which to dote, family get-togethers during the holidays, or assistance with living when those parents become too frail to take care of themselves. These mutual investments between parents and children are all forms of payback to God the Father. It’s the way of life for which God saved His people in Moses’ time.
As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
But, as with any Father, we shouldn’t take advantage of His love—or abuse our privilege. When Jesus was going through his time of self discovery in the desert, and the devil tried to talk him into taking advantage of his special status with the Father by egging Him into saving his life, Jesus knew better. He discovered what God put him here to do, and he knew that testing his Father’s love was not only wrong but it would be meaningless. He knew his Father was already saving him for a special mission: to save us.