This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:
GERMAN GREENS HAIL VICTORY
7The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the Lord. 3Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you* in this place. 4Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ 5 For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, 6if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, 7then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors for ever and ever.
Tradition cannot guarantee that any building is truly the temple of the Lord, Jeremiah warns, nor that the presence of such a building can protect a nation from its enemies. The prophet tells the people that God dwells where his covenant is kept and his commands obeyed. The key commands are justice amongst citizens and compassion to the needy, along with the refusal of murder and idolatry. Then the nation might be a house of God. This advice is so simple and obvious that nations continue to disregard it.
JOHN 7: 25-36
25 Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? 26And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? 27Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.’ 28Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, ‘You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.’ 30Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, ‘When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?’* Officers Are Sent to Arrest Jesus
32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. 33Jesus then said, ‘I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.’ 35The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36What does he mean by saying, “You will search for me and you will not find me” and, “Where I am, you cannot come”?’
The people are hung up on the title, “Messiah” which was their term for the promised Liberator of the nation, sent by God. They want to decide a teacher’s character by comparing him with what has been prophesied. In particular they are convinced that “where the Messiah comes from” will not be known, whereas Jesus comes from Nazareth. Jesus insists he had come from God, which leads to the authorities attempting his arrest. They are unsuccessful. Jesus comments that he will soon go to the one who sent him where they will not be able to come. Neither now, nor in the future will they be able to find Jesus, because of their blindness. Both here and hereafter Jesus dwells with God. They have turned their religion into the kind of reassuring mantra mocked by Jeremiah, “The temple, the temple, the temple; the messiah, the messiah, the messiah.” For John, seeing God as the one who has sent Jesus is true faith.