Truth, justice, and the forgiving way
Why the gap? As a rule, it is to help the preacher and to help the congregation hear a clear message in the reading, since many parts of Scripture are complex in their structure, etc.
Sometimes, the not-included verses contain references that would be challenging to explain fully in the pastoral context of daily Mass.
This is one of those days, for today’s not-included verses have Moses ordering the slaughter of three thousand of his own people in the name of God.
It is virtually impossible to get a nice warm feeling about this event.
Idolatry is a very natural human inclination, but it is deadly to having a true relationship with God, who is infinite and invisible.
Moses’ first reaction thus was to purge the sin by purging the sinners.
God would later remind Moses that punishment belonged to Him alone.
When it is time for me to punish,
I will punish them for their sin.
Even Moses himself would quickly recognize that forgiveness was the better path.
So Moses went back to the LORD and said,
"Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin
in making a god of gold for themselves!
If you would only forgive their sin!"
You and I are sinners ourselves (I know I am – Jesus, have mercy on me).
We must acknowledge our sinfulness and ask God for forgiveness.
We must be clear about what is right and what is wrong.
We must take prudent and proportionate action to protect against evil.
We must also share with others the forgiveness we ourselves have received and upon which we ourselves rely.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful to us – sinners.