This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:
Assad regime begins to crumble
Exhortation to Patience and Trust
1 Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers,
2 for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday.
Sometimes the way of goodness seems a waste of time because we see evil people doing well. The Old Testament expresses the view that the welfare of evil people is either destroyed or withers away, while the welfare of the good people is sustained. The occupationof the land of Israel was considered conditional on its people obeying the divine commandments and there is in many bible books an underlying assumption that because evil is fundamentally destructive, its fruits cannot last. God has lengthened the odds against the perdurance of evil. Maybe we are seeing that in Syria? But try telling that to the people of the Congo, or the horn of Africa, or Zimbabwe or Belarus; or for that matter, to the author of the book of Job which openly attacks the notion that God provides a measure of justice in this world. The words are beautiful, “commit your way to the Lord….he will make your vindication shine like the light and the justice of your cause as the noonday”, but are they true on this earth? When will the little people of the earth get justice and the smooth, civilised, wealthy killers of the world get theirs? Not often in this life, is my own answer. That’s one of my reasons for believing in heaven and hell.
27All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
Readers will know my love for the whole bible but these verses are a particular joy to me. In view of what I have said above, however, do they in fact mean anything more than, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.”?
I think they do. Firstly, Jesus expresses his unique relationship with the source of life. It is intimate, like that of a beloved son with a father. I don’t think Jesus is calling himself THE son, here, but rather emphasising that God’s heart is revealed, exclusively revealed, to those who love him. Then Jesus invites others to share this relationship with him. He and they will pull together and the burden of the yoke will be light because it is shared not only with Jesus but with God. In partnership with Jesus, God pulls along with his children in the labour of making the earth fruitful. This does not protect us from the evils of life, just as it did not protect Jesus, but all who are weary and heavy-laden find new strength in this partnership and their souls are at peace. Jesus’ way is utterly realistic about the inevitability of suffering and the need for sacrifice, but those who are committed to it discover an irrepressible lightness of heart and an indestructible peace as they follow him.