Lessons for Proper 22, October 7, 2018

Job 1 : 1, 2: 1-10

The Book of Job is widely known as the book of human suffering, sometimes  excruciating suffering beyond that which  any man or woman ought to bear.  But the story also raises a basic question:  what really is Job’s faith ;  does he fear God out of self-interest so that God will bless and protect him when the going gets rough?  In the text assigned for today the story of Job begins with the discussion between Satan and God regarding the question of Job’s faith; is it genuine or not?  God gives Satan carte blanche to test Job with ever-increasing torments.  The agony increases until Job’s wife reasons that he must have committed serious sins.  But throughout the pain and degradation, Job remains faithful.  The Lord wins, Satan is defeated.  The Book of Job with its continual slings and arrows to test the quality of faith in God has many contemporary comparisons and raises daily our understanding of what faith really means.

Hebrews 1: 1-4, 2:5 -12

The Book of Hebrews begins with a “majestic panorama”, which, in relating the ancestral years of the Jews, God’s chosen people, to the coming of God’s son, opens the then current season of belief in the Christ.  Addressed to Christians who, the author of Hebrews believes, are losing their faith and laying aside the practices of life they have been taught, he seeks to call them to a more vigorous faith. Hebrews calls upon the intention, the purpose of God in sending Jesus to earth, a human being, to restore and strengthen God’s kingdom on earth, and it was necessary for Jesus to live on earth in completely human fashion to accomplish God’s plan for the world.

Mark 10: 2-16

It is the first of Jesus’ southern trips out of Galilee to Judea, into somewhat foreign territory.  Jesus is nevertheless surrounded by crowds of curious citizens and  continues to teach of the Kingdom of God.  The Pharisees, ever worried about anyone who makes claims outside of their rigid observance of the Mosaic law, challenge Jesus on the right of a man to unload a wife, to divorce her as their practice counsels and allows.  Mark here presents the question of divorce as a test, one of many in Jesus’ short life.  For to outright condemn divorce would be an unpopular position to take before the crowd.  Jesus responds to the Pharisees that the law that OK’s divorce was a concession to human sinfulness.  Jesus the refers to Genesis 1: 27 and 2:24, calling marriage to be of “one flesh” and therefore indissoluble, and remarriage as adulterous.  In all of this Jesus raises the status of women as equal to men in sexual relations.

This will be the last of the weekly  Biblical “reflections” as we will no longer be a part of the Christian community of St. David’s Parish.  It has been a joy for me to read the forthcoming lessons, the Propers of the coming Sunday and then research these texts in our library of references and commentaries.  Reading the lectionary lessons and listening to Kathy’s interpretation are essential portions of the Sunday meal, the Eucharist, for they form the history and purpose of the faith we celebrate each week.  I hope you will continue to read the appointed lessons and reflect on their meaning in our corporate life each week.