This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news
13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people,
and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
14 But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me,
my Lord has forgotten me.’
15 Can a woman forget her nursing-child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
17 Your builders outdo your destroyers,
and those who laid you waste go away from you.
18 Lift up your eyes all around and see;
they all gather, they come to you.
As I live, says the Lord,
you shall put all of them on like an ornament,
and like a bride you shall bind them on.
Doubtless there are people who interpret such passages in a classically “Zionist” sense and it can’t be denied that the first meaning of such great passages of consolation is to reassure Israel that her citadel will be restored after the disaster of defeat and exile. But these are words addressed to a suffering people, not to the strutting bully boy which Israel has been for some time now. These words are for the victims of international power play not for its agents. Indeed the Palestinians victims both inside and outside Israel should take these words to themselves, and Christian people the world over should help Israel to see that the compassion of God now rests upon the victims of her racism. The two great metaphors of God’s compassion, however, endure as comfort for all the afflicted: God is even more attentive to her needy child than a nursing mother; and the name of the victim is inscribed on the hands of God. The words last beyond the occasion of their utterance.
13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
If the Isaiah passage reveals the motherliness of God this reveals the motherliness of Jesus. He welcomed babies. Before we take up the theological point which he added, it’s good to note that any community or society can be measured by its reaction to babies. I’m sure Italians are just as serious sinners as Scots but their openness to children shows a profound soundness of spirit. Jesus loved children and wanted his followers to do so.
The theological point, however, is that all who seek God’s saving justice must do so in the spirit of those who are vulnerable and have no rights. None of those who think they are entitled to it or have earned it, know anything about saving justice and cannot receive it. Only in company with the little ones of the earth can we enter God’s rule. The horrifying statistics of the suffering of children collected recently by “Save the Children” reminds us how distant we are from God’s rule; just as the statistics about the effects of current economic policy on children in the U.K. should be enough to prove their utter injustice.
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