This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:
TRUTH TONIGHT ABOUT IRISH BANKS!
19 Woe is me because of my hurt!
My wound is severe.
But I said, ‘Truly this is my punishment,
and I must bear it.’
20 My tent is destroyed,
and all my cords are broken;
my children have gone from me,
and they are no more;
there is no one to spread my tent again,
and to set up my curtains.
21 For the shepherds are stupid,
and do not inquire of the Lord;
therefore they have not prospered,
and all their flock is scattered.
22 Hear, a noise! Listen, it is coming—
a great commotion from the land of the north
to make the cities of Judah a desolation,
a lair of jackals.
23 I know, O Lord, that the way of human beings is not in their control,
that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps.
24 Correct me, O Lord, but in just measure;
not in your anger, or you will bring me to nothing.
The troubled nation itself speaks the lament in this passage. Like the mother of a nomadic family she has lost her children, the encampment is destroyed by enemies. This is the fault of the shepherds, that is, the leaders/ kings of the people, who have not listened to God. Now the prophet himself hears the threat of an invasion from the North, and in fear and resignation asks that God’s correction should not be destructive. It’s a beautiful prayer “Correct me O Lord, but in just measure; not in your anger or you will bring me to nothing.” We can all use this when we know we’ve gone wrong. Perhaps the wry wisdom of such passages is the best of Jeremiah and relevant to our overconfident societies.
21 Again he said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 22Then the Jews said, ‘Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, “Where I am going, you cannot come”?’ 23He said to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.’ 25They said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Why do I speak to you at all? 26I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.’ 27They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. 28So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. 29And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.’ 30As he was saying these things, many believed in him. 31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’
Jesus is free because he “comes from” above: he is not bound by the “world”. Now unless we enjoy fantasies of Jesus floating down to earth like a parachute or his DNA being supplied to Mary by God, we have to interpret these words as indicating a dimension of being which is possible for humans. Jesus “belongs, dwells” with the Father, he is obedient to him, they dwell together in mutual love, yes, and he does so as a human being. He is at pains to emphasise this: his listeners also have the option of being “born from above” and “coming from above”. This can happen if they put their trust in him. If they hold to his word, they will follow him, and will know the truth (they will see the world as “from above”) and that will free them from all the lies and deceptions of the world. Our politics tends to put it the other way round: gain your freedom and then you’ll know the truth. That way lies more enslavement. Jesus offers rebirth and truth as the starting place for freedom