This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:
World Food Programme worker freed after 86 days captivity in Sudan
17Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.
2 A slave who deals wisely will rule over a child who acts shamefully, and will share the inheritance as one of the family.
ALTHOUGH SLAVERY PERSISTED IN ISRAEL, WE GET GLIMPSES SUCH AS THIS< THAT SOME WERE TREATED HUMANELY
3 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
GOD IS LIKE A CRUCIBLE OR FURNACE-NOT A COMFOTABLE IMAGE
4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips; and a liar gives heed to a mischievous tongue.
5 Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who are glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
-AND THOSE WHO SLANDER THE POOR AS LAZY!
6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their parents.
7 Fine speech is not becoming to a fool; still less is false speech to a ruler.*
8 A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of those who give it; wherever they turn they prosper.
9 One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend.
FORGIVENESS IS NOR ONLY GOD’S COMMAND-IT WORKS!
10 A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool.
11 Evil people seek only rebellion, but a cruel messenger will be sent against them.
12 Better to meet a she-bear robbed of its cubs than to confront a fool immersed in folly.
13 Evil will not depart from the house of one who returns evil for good.
THE EVIL THAT WE DO STAYS WITH US
14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water; so stop before the quarrel breaks out.
More good sayings from the wisdom of Israel. Is anyone collecting the wisdom of Scotland or USA or Syria?
<!– 43 –>
The Return of the Unclean Spirit
43 ‘When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting-place, but it finds none.44Then it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order.45Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.’<!– 46 –>
The True Kindred of Jesus
46 While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him.47Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’*48But to the one who had told him this, Jesus* replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’49And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’
These two stories show different sides of Jesus’ character. The first is a witty ghost story about evil spirits. It’s no use Jesus expelling evil spirits if people then leave their lives so empty that it’s easy for the spirit to come back with his mates to the untenanted house. Jesus uses the popular psychology of his people to suggest that no human soul can be empty for long: it must either welcome God’s spirit or an evil spirit. As Bob Dylan sings, “you gotta serve somebody: it may be the Devil or it may be the Lord but you gotta serve somebody.” That’s not a fashionable philosophy: it suggests people have to take sides in the battle of good and evil in the world. The need to take sides is also the theme of the second story which shows Jesus rejecting his family who don’t understand that he’s in a war against evil and must keep loyalty with Gpd’s footsoldiers rather than his own flesh and blood. There is a harsh element in Jesus’ sense of vocation, an either/or which goes aganst the worldly wisdom of decent people. Surely your own family should come first, we protest. No, says Jesus, the new family of God’s children comes first. We have to be careful here. Cults have said that members should be torn from their families so that the cult can mould their lives. Jesus was saying that natural families should serve the greater family of God’s children. LIke all Jwsih people he honours his parents and kin: but they are not all important! Christian teaching about “family values” needs to be based on Jesus’ teaching and practice rather than traditional sentiment.