Psalm 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Tension best describes what I feel as I read the scriptures of the day. It is not unlike the tension in our times regarding the war on terrorism extending to Iraq or the disgrace of abuse in the church or the economic hard times and scandal of business leaders deceiving their companies and stockholders. Who is right and who is wrong? Who ‘wins’ and who ‘loses’ in a court of law with these situations? Should the law be our only guide in discerning these thorny dilemmas?
Things were not easy in the early Church either. There were arguments about what was true to the words/ways of Jesus, and what was not. In today’s reading, Paul is upset with the Galatians for their shifting from the good news of Jesus to attempting to validate their lives by the law. A closer look at the context indicates that some of the Galatians were using the Jewish law as the yardstick for who was/was not being a good follower of Jesus. Paul reminds them that perhaps they are relying on the law as their criteria rather than following the way of Jesus. At times, the way of faith and the way of the law lead us in entirely different directions. (Earlier in Galatians, Paul reminds the people that he battled with Peter regarding the necessity of following the Jewish law of circumcision for newly baptized followers of Jesus.)
How does one know if their way of life is truly in the Spirit or whether or not their life has taken on a peculiarity, which skews God’s message? Where do we see the power (evidence) of God’s works? The psalmist sings God’s praise for feeding those who are faithful to God’s covenant with them. What does it means to be in covenant with someone - to be in agreement with - living in harmony with the meaning of the relationship - true to the other and to our God?
In the Gospel, Jesus says that “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me, scatters.”
Scary words… I know that I’d like to say, “Ok Jesus, I’m with YOU!” But how do I know…what will be the meaning of my actions? Will they resonate with the way and truth of Jesus and God, or will they be more my twist on what seems to fit for me/us?
Both Paul and Jesus emphasize what IS the meaning of faith. It is not only hearing the word of God, but also making it obvious in our lives. Do we sometimes have to question the law (ways of the majority)? Perhaps…
What is covenant with God – with others? Is it wanting what is best for the ‘other’ with whom we are in relation? It is not wishing/doing harm to others. What if other breaks the relationship/covenant? Does it give me right to also break it by hurting the other?
Hard times/hard questions: “Eye for eye; tooth for tooth…” or a new way - the way of the covenant/God’s way in Jesus?
“Love one another as I have loved you”, - familiar words. However, how do we live in the midst of evil or what is perceived/guessed as evil?
Jesus used strong words and images of struggle in today’s reading.
If we are people of faith, rather than defining ourselves as people of the law, what then?
My fervent prayer today is: “Come, Spirit of God. Help me/us
to know what it means to live by faith, to live in covenant with you in
the midst of today’s challenges.”
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