Archive for the ‘Judgment and Mercy’ Tag

Judgment and Mercy, Part XIV   1 comment

Above:  Caduceus

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Numbers 21:4-9 or Malachi 3:19-24/4:1-6

Psalm 74:1-2, 10-17

Hebrews 13:1-16, 20-21

Mark 12:35-44

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The promise of divine punishment for evil and of divine deliverance of the oppressed and righteous on the great Day of the LORD is one example of judgment and mercy being like sides of a coin.  The deliverance of the oppressed is very bad news for the oppressors, who are, in a way, victims of themselves.

If we behave as we should–revere God, take care of each other, et cetera–we will not have to fear punishment from God for not doing so.  We may incur punishment from human authorities, as in Tobit 1, but God did not promise a peaceful life in exchange for righteousness.

Two stories require more attention.

The cure in Numbers, cited also in John 3:14-15, in the context of the crucifixion of Jesus, our Lord and Savior’s glorification, according to the Fourth Gospel, is a textbook case of sympathetic magic.  It is related to Egyptian imagery of kingship, divinity, and protection from cobra saliva.  A commonplace visual echo is the caduceus, the medical symbol.

Pay attention to what precedes and follows Mark 12:41-44.  Our Lord and Savior’s condemnation of those who, among other things,

eat up the property of widows,

precedes the account of the widow giving all she had to the Temple.  Immediately in Chapter 13, we read a prediction of the destruction of the Temple.  I conclude that Jesus found the widow’s faith laudable yet grieved her choice.

May our lives bring glory to God and lead others to faith and discipleship.  May we, in our zeal, not go off the deep end and embarrass God and/or accidentally drive people away from God or get in the way of evangelism.  And may we never mistake an internal monologue for a dialogue with God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 27, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, ANGLICAN SCHOLAR, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND BISHOP OF DURHAM; AND FENTON JOHN ANTHONY HORT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN HENRY BATEMAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHAN NORDAHL BRUN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN BISHOP, AUTHOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM REED HUNTINGTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND RENEWER OF THE CHURCH; AND HIS GRANDSON, WILLIAM REED HUNTINGTON, U.S. ARCHITECT AND QUAKER PEACE ACTIVIST

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/27/devotion-for-proper-28-year-b-humes/

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The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant   2 comments

Above:  Saint John on Patmos, by the Limbourg Brothers

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Isaiah 25:6-9

Psalm 24

Revelation 7:9-17

John 11:32-44

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Three of the four readings for this day come from the context of tribulation.  The other reading (Psalm 24) is a text composed for the procession of the Ark of the Covenant.

God is the King of Glory, as Psalm 24 attests, but appearances contradict that truth much of the time.  The apocalyptic tone on Isaiah 25:6-9 and Revelation 7:9-17 confirms the discrepancy between appearances and reality.  In John 11, with the story of the raising of Lazarus, immediately precedes the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (John 12).  Furthermore, the Gospel of John tells us, the raising of Lazarus was the last straw before the decision to execute Jesus (John 11:47f).

Despite the violence and other perfidy of the world, we read, God will remain faithful to the righteous and will defeat evil.  That will be a day of rejoicing and the beginning of a new age.  To be precise, it will be a day of rejoicing for the righteous and of gnashing of teeth for the unrighteous.

That day seems to be far off, does it not?  Perhaps it is.  I dare not add my name to the long list of those who have predicted the date of the parousia.  I do, however, rejoice that the Church Triumphant exists and constitutes that great cloud of witnesses surrounding the Church Militant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE AND JOACHIM, PARENTS OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/devotion-for-all-saints-day-year-b-humes/

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Lost and Found, Part II   1 comment

Above:  The Parable of the Lost Coin, by John Everett Millais

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Fifth Sunday of the Season of God the Father, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Lord Jesus, good shepherd of the sheep, who came to seek and to save the lost:

so lead thy church that we may show thy compassion to the helpless,

rescue those in peril, and bring home the wanderers in safety to thee.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 127

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Genesis 8:13-22

James 1:12-18

Luke 15:1-10

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To repent is to change one’s mind, literally.  A person repents when he or she changes his or her mind regarding a particular sin or set of sins, thereby resolving not to repeat it or them.  We read of God changing the divine mind–usually away from judgment and toward mercy–throughout the Bible, especially the Hebrew Bible, as in Genesis 8:21-22.

If we imagine that we are not lost, we need a spiritual awakening.  If we think we do not need to repent, we have to repent of that, as well as of our other sins.  You, O reader, and I are the lost sheep in Luke 15:4-7 and the precious coin (worth about one day’s wages) on the earthen floor of the small, windowless house in Luke 15:8-10.  We are precious to God.

Is God precious to us?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE AND JOACHIM, PARENTS OF SAINT MARY OF NAZARETH

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Signs, Part II   2 comments

Above:  Elijah in the Wilderness, by Washington Allston

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Exodus 32:1-14 or 1 Kings 19:1-15

Psalm 59:1-5, 16-17

Hebrews 4:1-13

Mark 8:22-33

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Yahweh, God of Hosts, God of Israel!

Awake to punish all the nations,

show no mercy to wicked traitors.

–Psalm 59:6, Mitchell J. Dahood (1968)

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That attitude is consistent with God’s Plan A in Exodus 32, after the idolatry and apostasy at the base of the mountain.  Aaron’s poor excuse still makes me laugh, though.

So I said to them, “Whoever has gold, take it off!  They gave it to me and I hurled it into the fire and out came this calf!

–Exodus 32:24, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Exodus and Mark contain stories of dramatic, powerful encounters with God.  We read of visual and tactile experiences. We also read of short-lived faithfulness, of much grumbling, of obliviousness, of recognition followed by official denial, and of fidelity.

The juxtaposition of the formerly blind man (Mark 8:22-26) and the obliviousness of St. Simon Peter (Mark 8:32-33) highlights the spiritual blindness of the latter man.  The stories also challenge us to ponder our spiritual blindness.

Even Elijah, who had recently confronted the prophets of Baal Peor then presided over their slaughter (1 Kings 18), had to deal with his spiritual blindness.  While hiding from Queen Jezebel and feeling sorry for himself, he encountered God, who, in that context, revealed self not in dramatic ways (as Baal Peor would have done), but in a still, small voice, or, as The New Jerusalem Bible (1985) renders the text,

a light murmuring sound.

Do we fail to notice messages from God because we seek dramatic signs?

Sometimes, in the Gospels, one reads of Jesus performing a miracle, followed by people demanding a sigh.  One’s jaw should drop.  One should seek God for the correct reasons and not become attached to dramatic signs.  God whispers sometimes.  God whispers to us, to those similar to us, and to those quite different from us.  God judges and forgives.  Signs are abundant.  How many do we notice?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/devotion-for-proper-20-year-b-humes/

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Resurrection of the Dead, Part II   1 comment

Above:  Resurrection of the Dead

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Help us, O Lord, to hold fast to the faith delivered to the apostles;

remove from our minds all unfounded and senseless belief,

and inspire us with such thoughts as are true, wise, and well-pleasing to thee;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Daniel 12:1-4

Romans 8:22-39

Matthew 22:23-33

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Ezekiel 37, from last week’s post, is about the restoration of Israel after the Babylonian Exile, not the resurrection of the dead.  Daniel 12, dating to the second century B.C.E., reflects the subsequent theological development of Judaism and does teach the resurrection of the dead.  The other assigned readings for this week are also about the resurrection of the dead.

Sadducees also rejected that doctrine.  As a children’s song explains, that’s why

they were sad, you see.

The ludicrous question about levirate marriage and the resurrection was, therefore, an insincere question and a trap.  Jesus evaded that trap.

The resurrection of the dead satisfies an understandable psychological need.  We recognize rampant injustice in this life, so we need reassurance that justice will define the next life.  We need to hear and read that judgment and mercy, in balance, will be present.

I do not know the resurrection of the dead as a fact, but I accept it on faith.  This doctrine helps me to accept that God is just when the past and current events indicate rampant injustice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Reconciliation, Part III   Leave a comment

Above:  An Israeli Stamp of Jonah

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Lord, Heavenly Father, in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom:

enlighten our minds by thy Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive thy Word

with reverence and humility, without which no man can understand thy truth.

Grant this for the sake of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Jonah 3:1-4:11

Ephesians 4:25-32

Matthew 9:1-13

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…let your words be for the improvement of others, as occasion offers, and do good to your listeners….

–Ephesians 4:29b, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Jonah (a fool and a fictitious prophet, the story of whom continues to indict individuals and groups) and the critics of Jesus in Matthew 9:1-13 were unlike the ideal person in Ephesians 4:25-32.  Jonah, a reluctant prophet who learned the hard way that he could not flee from God, became bitterly disappointed when he successfully helped to effect the repentance of enemies.  Divine mercy has long been scandalous and objectionable to many people.

If God loved only people similar to ourselves, would we feel better?  Would our egos be more secure?  Perhaps.  We do well, that not withstanding, to know that, if we do not desire the destruction of, not the repentance of a population, some people, somewhere, wish the destruction of the population to which we belong.  The story of Jonah always indicts some individuals and populations.  Mutual animosity cannot work toward the common good.  Besides, we should, logically, be glad when an enemy ceases to be a foe.  It is better for us, is it not?  But do we know that?

May the love of God define our egos and our attitudes toward other people, especially those different from us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS À KEMPIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN NEWTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, U.S. BAPTIST MINISTER AND THEOLOGIAN OF THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

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Good Society, Part V   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Hosea

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray,

and art wont to give more than wither we desire or deserve:

pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy;

forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid,

and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask,

but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 125-126

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Hosea 11:1-11

Romans 3:21-31

Matthew 5:21-26

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Judgment and mercy exist in balance in this day’s assigned readings.  God is parental in Hosea 11.  Discipline is part of good parenting.  In the context of God, human boasting is pointless, as we read in Romans 3.  Matthew 5:21-26 warns us that proper attitudes toward our fellow human beings matter.  As one can read in Matthew 6:14-15, the standard we apply to others will be the standard God applies to us; our forgiveness depends on us being forgiving.

Are we loving people or fearful and hateful people?  Our attitudes lead to our actions.  In other words, our fruits will reveal what kind of trees we are.

May we, by grace, transform our cultures so that hatred will become socially unacceptable.  May peer pressure encourage us to be loving people.  May social norms and mores insist that those in authority be loving individuals, not fearful, hateful people.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS À KEMPIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN NEWTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, U.S. BAPTIST MINISTER AND THEOLOGIAN OF THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

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