Above: Jesus Healing a Paralytic, by Bernhard Rode
Image in the Public Domain
Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part VIII: False Notions of Holiness
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2017
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 everlasting 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
The Assigned Readings:
Psalm 103 (Morning)
Psalms 117 and 139 (Evening)
Deuteronomy 5:22-6:9 is a generally positive lection with a dark cloud hanging over it. We readers know (or at least we should know) that the good intentions will not last long and that the consequences will be dire and predictable.
I suppose that our Lord and Savior’s critics thought that they were on the side of righteousness and that Jesus was not. Perhaps they thought of the consequences of collective apostasy and in the Hebrew Bible. Maybe they feared that Jesus was leading people astray. They were wrong, of course, for they represented a corrupt religious system. And Jesus, with his authority, challenged theirs. He also challenged basic assumptions regarding fasting, table fellowship, ritual purity, and the cause of the paralyzed man’s suffering. He redefined holiness to be more inclusive than exclusive, drawing people into the big tent rather than consigning large populations to the category of the hopelessly lost.
It is easy and frequently tempting to define one’s self as belonging to an elite club of holy people. To do so is certainly ego-reinforcing. Yet it is a trap for one’s self and a careless disregard for others who bear the image of God.
So I challenge you, O reader, to ask yourself some questions. Who are the people you blame unjustly for their problems? Who are the people you exclude unjustly? Who are the people from whom you keep a distance so that they will not “contaminate” you by their presence? I ask myself the same questions about how I think of and act toward others. Yes, we will not get along with all people; that is a morally neutral fact of life. And we will have little in common with many individuals. But we must not assume that anyone is hopelessly lost to God.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MAY 1, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILIP AND JAMES, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS