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Job 1:1; 2:1-10 and Psalm 26 OR Genesis 2:18-24 and Psalm 8; Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12; Mark 10:2-16
COLLECTFor the Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary time ....
Lord God, our eternal home, we ask you to take us up into your arms and bless us. Hold us close and make us feel how truly dependent we are on your loving grace and mercy. Make the peace we long for inside ourselves a living reality in our lives. Help us to walk with equanimity all our days knowing that our times are in your hands. This we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
THOUGHTSI had a Psalm 8 experience this week in the very early hours of Thursday October 5th. The sky in the Columbia Valley was completely lit up from one end to the other, from the Rockies to the Purcells, from Kinbasket to the Windermere, with that curious green luminescence of an auroral display. Shimmering curtains spread across the sky suspended as it were from angels wings. The stars dotted the heavens in magnificent array. "When I look at your heavens... what is humanity that you are mindful of us?"
Job 1:1; 2:1-10
Once upon a time.... The story of Job opens with a line very similar to the fairy tale stories of my youth. "There was once a man in the land of Uz...." Using an old technique, the writer of Job fleshes out a familiar story about an upright man tormented by grievous losses and restored by God after demonstrating his faith. The dialogue allows the writer to explore the dimensions of grief and despair, the inadequacy of the then (and still) current interpretations of why someone suffers, and the inadequacy of any interpretation in the face of the mystery of God.
I think the 'trick' of a balanced, mature personality is equanimity. Equanimity. This is exactly what Job displayed. Equanimity in the face of disaster. What God displays is a "divine confidence" in Job. (E. S. P. Heavenor; The New Bible Commentary, Rev.; Eerdmans; eds. Guthrie, Motyer, Stibbs, Wiseman ; p 422)
Job is a tremendous treatise on the theme of suffering. Anyone who has suffered can identify with it and with the ultimate revelation that there remains - in this life - mystery. "Now we see in a glass darkly...." Does Job serve God out of love, out of an abiding relationship with God? This question, the thrust of the Satan's thesis that Job does not, highlights the deep mystery we encounter in our lives. Do we serve God out of love, out of an abiding relationship? What if we suffered the loss of all thing? What is really important in life when it really comes down to it?
This psalm almost reads - for me - like Job's declaration of innocence and righteousness. It is a plea for justice and it is a testimony of confidence in God. The psalmist loves to be in God's house praising and taking part in the ritual worship. It is a statement of confidence, a demonstration of equanimity. "I walk in my integrity...I will bless the Lord."
Eveything about creation is good - until now. "Then the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone." In the unfolding revelation of the Bible, we begin to glimpse the relational nature of the Trinity and to grasp the relational nature of our relationship with God. The image of marriage is the vehicle used to help our understanding.
We are made from the dust of the earth, in the image of God, with the divine breath or wind breathed into our nostrils. We are created for relationship. We are created to experience a taste of the life of God in our intimate physical relationships of marriage. I'm not talking about common law or "living together;" I'm talking about committed, covenant relationship. In every great marriage there is the "trinity." man, woman, God.
As the crown of creation, God created woman. God did not go back to the dust but to the body of man to create a being so intimately familiar that men and women, in covenant relationship with God, can claim and build an intimacy that nurtures the entire being, becoming as it is so quaintly and beautifully said, "one flesh." This "one flesh" will take a lifetime to plumb the depths of intimacy, companionship, friendship, spirituality and more. Therefore it is a relationship designed to grow and designed to be exclusive. That we humans are fragile and frail creatures does not deny the promise contained in the relationship.
Indeed! What are we, Lord, that you are mindful of us? You have given us so much. You have placed all things at our feet and made us lords of creation. We can think and we can will. But, you, O Lord, you are so beyond our comprehension. How majestic is your name in all the earth!
Your glory is seen in the heavens. Oh starry starry night! Your glory is ordained to fall from the lips of little children. We are here for such a short time and yet your creation continues on.
St. Paul and the writer of Hebrews apply verses 4-6 to Jesus. (See Hebrews 2:6-8, Ephesians 1:22; and 1 Corinthians 15:27.) Psalm 8 anticipates Christ's coming - "a little lower than the angels."
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
Long ago, God spoke by the Prophets, now he speaks by his Son. This Son is the exact imprint of his being. This Jesus was made perfect through his sufferings. Jesus' redemptory work was for us. We are sanctified by his sacrifice of himself and are thus become the children of God. Both we and Jesus have now the same Father and he is not ashamed to call us sisters and brothers. Halleluiah!
In this passage we see evidence that Jesus is the defender of women and children. In the days he was on earth, women did not have the rights we exdpect today. Nor did children. Jesus defends both in his teaching.
In Jesus' teaching on marriage he goes back to God's ideal as expressed in Genesis. His interpretive commentary pre-dates the "fix" allowed by Moses for "your hardness of heart." The ideal is held out to us as something to strive for, not something that it doesn't matter if we fall short of. In my experience, if you only aim for a "C," you'll not get an "A." What are we to aim for in our marriage covenants, in our interpretations?
If you look closely at sacraments and at sacramentality you will notice something special. In every other "sacrament" besides marriage, there is another acting as the minister of the sacrament. In marriage covenants, the couple themselves are acting as ministers of the sacrament, with the pastor as witness. Therefore there is something very special intended in the marriage covenant. Both are "priests" of their covenant.
Further, it is the covenant relatonship of marriage that is used to - inadequately - describe the relationship of Christ and his Bride, the Church and even of Christ and his Bride, me (and you and you and ...).
"And he took them up in his arms and... blessed them." The words used mean blessed them fervently. Picture it. What Jesus is saying to us here is that we must be receptive and be willing to be dependent on others. It certainly seems to call for a whole life lived in humility before God.
Ordinary ThoughtsI apologize for the lateness of this week and last week's commentary. I have a limited energy reserve and I had some extra commitments crop up. I have enjoyed writing this and I get a lot out of it personally. If it is even minimally helpful to others, I thank God! Unfortunately this must be the last of this series.
copyright - Charlene E. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2000 - 2006
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