This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:
JEREMIAH 5: 23-31
But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
they have turned aside and gone away.
24 They do not say in their hearts,
‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
the weeks appointed for the harvest.’
25 Your iniquities have turned these away,
and your sins have deprived you of good.
26 For scoundrels are found among my people;
they take over the goods of others.
Like fowlers they set a trap;*
they catch human beings.
27 Like a cage full of birds,
their houses are full of treachery;
therefore they have become great and rich,
28 they have grown fat and sleek.
They know no limits in deeds of wickedness;
they do not judge with justice
the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper,
and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
29 Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord,
and shall I not bring retribution
on a nation such as this?
The characterisation of rich and arrogant people in Jeremiah is shrewd:
1. They exceed natural limits-the kind of limits evident in the seasons
2. They have no fear of God the Creator: they are self-made
3. They trap other people as bird-catchers trap birds to cage them. (a good description of consumer capitalism)
4. They are fat and sleek in character if not body.
5. They don’t care about the poor and powerless.
Regardless of what party is in power, these are the people who rule developed societies.
7After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. 2Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. 3So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; 4for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’ 5(For not even his brothers believed in him.) 6Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. 8Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.’ 9After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
All gospels record the unbelief of Jesus siblings. Here they urge him to go to Jerusalem for the festival so that his deeds may be seen by the big world beyond Galilee. Jesus tells them that worldly people can always seize the chance for worldly success, but that those who criticise worldly evil have to wait for a stranger moment and a different kind of power. The world hates those who are honest about its evil. Indeed, as the line between God and the world runs through me rather than between me and others, I can say that I hate those who are honest about my evil. “The word of God is alive and active piercing to the dividing point of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4). Yes I hate it but it’s part of salvation.
When Jesus’ time comes it is ironically a moment of worldly failure rather than success: the cross.