bible blog 1434

The readings are from the Catholic Lectionary for daily mass while the headlines are chosen to remind me of the world in which I blog.

PEACEFUL ISLAM AT HAJJ PILGRIMAGE 

pilgrims circle the Kaaba

pilgrims circle the Kaaba

Psalm

Psalm 26:7-9,13-14

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
Of you my heart has spoken:
‘Seek his face.’

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not your face.
Dismiss not your servant in anger;
you have been my help.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord!

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

There’s no doubt these words are scripture but they are scripture verses selected by the church and as such more expressive of the church’s faith that the truth of scripture. The rejected verses of Psalm 26 speak of complete trust in God, even in the face of enemies and of the desire to dwell in the house of the Lord. The distinctive note of the verses selected is the confidence that the Psalmist will see the Lord’s goodness in this world and in this life. Of course seeing is also a matter of faith: great saints see more goodness in the world that the rest of us.The old habit of countings our blessings often reveals that life has been better than we thought; and that there are much goodness for which we can be thankful. People who have been manipulated by advertising into a state of constant dissatisfaction with what they have, so that they keep on buying things, are always miserable; while people whose economies do not demand over-consumption are often more content. The trust that we shall see the Lord’s goodness goes along with our prayer for daily bread; that we should have enough to live. Both prayers, however, must be made on behalf of all God’s children, not merely for ourselves or our nations. When we do do so it becomes evident that these prayers are not yet answered. There are many who see no goodness and lack daily bread. In this way our prayer and scripture reading lead towards charitable and political action. Usually the reason why people suffer from lack of God’s goodness is that others have grabbed it for themselves. 

This pushes us towards the conclusion that the provision of God’s goodness is not solely in God’s hands but has been delegated to human beings. The “Lord’s face” is to be seen in the faces of our fellow human beings when they do us justice or show us kindness. Gerald Manley Hopkins said this well:

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
 
Gospel
Matthew 18:1-5,10The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

Jesus wasn’t sentimental about children, although he seems to have liked them. He was not suggesting that they have qualities that adults should desire to possess, but simply pointing to their actual smallness and vulnerability. Disciples have to learn to as be small and vulnerable as children rather than seeking power over others. Obviously this involves a radical change in people trained by society to seek their own advantage. Indeed, John’s gospel is perhaps the best interpreter of this passage when it speaks of the need to be “born from above,” by God’s spirit. The child has no rights; disciples surrender their rights to allow God to rule their lives. This is the conversion,the about-turn, which Jesus commanded, “The rule of God is near; turn around and trust the good news.” Such people are ever ready to welcome and to protect children. 

children in war zone

children in war zone

This suggests that there may be a connection between competetive power-seeking and the abuse of children. The kind of ruthlessness inculcated by liberal capitalism and religious meritocracies may have something to do with the disturbing levels of child abuse found in both.

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