Can the Christian Bible provide daily wisdom in 2012? This blog uses the Episcopal daily readings along with a daily headline from world news to check this out.
Daily Headline: Respect for former rulers of North Korea
Messengers from John the Baptist
2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah* was doing, he sent word by his* disciples3and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’4Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see:5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers* are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.6And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’
Jesus Praises John the Baptist
7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind?8What then did you go out to see? Someone* dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces.9What then did you go out to see? A prophet?* Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.10This is the one about whom it is written,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.”
11Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.12From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,* and the violent take it by force.13For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came;14and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.15Let anyone with ears* listen!
Jesus is concerned that John the Baptist, who may have been his cousin, whom he reveres as the last and greatest of the prophets, shouldhave doubts about him. The reader may guess that the stern prophet was worried by reports of Jesus’ carelessness with the letter of the Law and of his scandalous freindship with sinners. He doesn;t argue but simply asks John’s messengers to tell John what they have seen: life restored for many sorts of ill people and good news announced to the poor people of the land. Jesus trusts John to see that these are signs that God’s rule is happening in his ministry. Our lazy minds should consider this matter carefully. In our developed societies these miracles of restoration happen daily and are taken for granted. Perhaps we also should see them as signs of God’s rule in our midst. And yes, once we start looking we will also see many communities in which the gospel is sincerely announced to the poor. Certainly we could do with more restoration of broken lives. Certainly we could do with more communication of the gospel to the poor rather than its formal repetition in rich churches. But let’s not close our minds to the signs that are here of God’s goodness in the land of the living. The living Christ is active through men and women and children, now. The God who wants to rule by love holds sway through those who open their hearts to his goodness.
Jesus taught that God’s rule had been hijacked by violent people who thought they had to establish it by force. The sincere Jewish jihadis of the time used assasination and armed struggle to chase the heathen Romans out of their lands. But now that God’s rule is revealed as sheer goodness for all, the least of those who accept that rule is greater than the greatest who never knew it. That truth is one for our time also. God’s rule requires no guns, no drones, no assasinations, no jihad; only the determination to do and to enjoy what good we can and to accept what suffering we must.