God is With Us

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 — Week of Proper 29, Year 1

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 995)

Psalms [120], 121, 122, 123 (morning) // 124, 125, 126, [127] (evening)

Zechariah 11:4-17

1 Corinthians 3:10-23

Luke 18:31-43

Chapter 11 of Zechariah comes from the hand of an unknown prophet during a time when Judah is being led by destructive leaders. They are like a shepherd of a “flock doomed to slaughter. Those who buy them and kill them and go unpunished; and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the Lord, for I have become rich.'” [My mind goes to the destructive financial practices that brought on our recent recession.] The prophet stages a satirical enactment of their activities, thus exposing them. He takes two shepherd staffs named Delight and Harmony, and he breaks them. Through his prophetic act, he declares God’s opinion upon the leaders who do “not care for the perishing, or seek the wandering, or heal the maimed, or nourish the healthy, but devour the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.”

So often we hear the prophets’ complaints against those who abuse power. The prophets declare the word of the Lord — God sees and judges your abuse. The prophets raise up God’s values, which are always to protect and care for the poor and vulnerable. The prophets declare God’s judgment on those who use their power to expand their wealth rather than their generosity. It is clear that in this prophet’s time, like so many others ages, that God’s people were suffering from the corruption and abuse of the wealthy and powerful.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul is dealing with the mixed results of human leadership. He declares that our foundation is Jesus Christ, the congregation is God’s temple, and God’s Spirit dwells in us. Every person is a Temple of God’s Spirit, Paul says. But each works with different effect. Some build with “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw.” All of that work will be exposed by God, and the good will endure. So strive to do good work.

In Luke Jesus speaks of his future at the hands of the leaders. “He will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” The disciples do not understand. They are blind to the meaning of his words. But on the road in Jericho, a blind man seems to understand. He cries to the Son of David for help, for vision. Jesus heals him and he can see.

Nations and individuals go through periods of blindness. Leaders in all walks of life abuse their power and the strong oppress the weak. God not only sees like a omniscient judge, God also takes into the divine life the abuse and oppression of humanity through the cross. God’s prophets speak God’s words condemning the abuse of power; God’s Spirit exposes all works and protects what is good; Jesus opens our blind eyes so that we can see reality.

God is always with us. God suffers with us. God exposes and overthrows the destructive, and opens blind eyes to see what we do not yet understand. God is working in our time too.

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