Archive for the ‘Psalm 50’ Tag

Week of 6 Epiphany: Monday, Year 1   11 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator, Daphni, Greece

The Sin of Jealousy

FEBRUARY 18, 2019

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Genesis 4:1-15, 25 (Revised English Bible):

The man lay with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain.  She said,

With the help of the LORD I have brought into being a male child.

Afterwards she had another child, Abel.  He tended the flock, and Cain worked the land.  In due season Cain brought some of the fruits of the earth as an offering to the LORD, while Abel brought the choicest of the firstborn of his flock.  The regarded Abel and his offering with favour, but not Cain and his offering.  Cain was furious and he glowered.  The LORD said to Cain,

Why are you angry?  Why are you scowling?

If you do well, you hold hold your head up;

if not, sin is a demon crouching at the door;

it will desire you, and you will be mastered by it.

Cain said to his brother Abel,

Let us go out into the country.

Once there, Cain attacked and murdered his brother.  The LORD asked Cain,

Where is your brother Abel?

Cain answered,

I do not know.  “Am I my brother’s keeper?

The LORD said,

What have you done?  Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.  Now you are accursed and will be banished from the very ground which has opened its mouth to receive the blood you have shed.  When you till the ground, it will no longer yield you its produce.  You shall be a wanderer, a fugitive on the earth.

Cain said the the LORD,

My punishment is heavier than I can bear; now you are driving me off the land, and I must hide myself from your presence.  I shall be a wanderer, a fugitive on the earth, and I can be killed at sight by anyone.

The LORD answered him,

No:  if anyone kills Cain, sevenfold vengeance shall be exacted from him….

Adam lay with his wife again.  She gave birth to a son, and named him Seth,

for,

she said,

God has granted me another son in place of Abel, because Cain killed him.

Psalm 50:7-24 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak:

“O Israel, I will bear witness against you;

for I am God, your God.

8 I do not accuse you because of your sacrifices;

your offerings are always before me.

9 I will take no bull-calf from your stalls,

nor he goats out of your pens;

10 For all the beasts of the forest are mine,

the herds in their thousands upon the hills.

11 I know every bird in the sky,

and the creatures of the fields are in my sight.

12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for the whole world is mine and all that is in it.

13 Do you think I eat the flesh of bulls,

or drink the blood of goats?

14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and make good your vows to the Most High.

15 Call upon me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you shall honor me.

16 But to the wicked God says:

“Why do you recite my statutes,

and take my covenant upon your lips?

17 Since you refuse discipline,

and toss my words behind your back?

18 When you see a thief, you make him your friend,

and you cast in your lot with adulterers.

19 You have loosed your lips for evil,

and harnessed your tongue to a lie.

20 You are always speaking of evil of your brother

and slandering your own mother’s son.

21 These things you have done, and I kept still,

and you thought that I am like you.”

22 “I have made my accusation;

I have put my case in order before your eyes.

23 Consider this well, you who forget God,

lest I rend you and there be none to deliver you.

24 Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me;

but to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God.”

Mark 8:11-13 (Revised English Bible):

Then the Pharisees came out and began to argue with him.  To test him they asked for a sign from heaven.  He sighed deeply and said,

Why does generation ask for a sign?  Truly I tell you:  no sign shall be given to this generation.

With that he left them, re-embarked, and made for the other shore.

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The Collect:

O  God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Part of the process of writing each of these posts is deciding which image to place at the top.  Moody Jesus fits the bill for today, based on the reading from Mark.

The sin of jealousy ties the Genesis and Mark readings together.  We have continuing mythology in Genesis.  Two brothers, Cain and Abel, are quite different from each other.  Each makes a sacrifice to God, and, as Richard Elliott Friedman translates the text,

And YHWH paid attention to Abel and his offering, and did not pay attention to Cain and his offering.  And Cain was very upset, and his face was fallen.

Cain’s reply, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is familiar in the English language.  Professor Friedman, however, translates this question differently:  “Am I my brother’s watchman?”  This, he says, is consistent with a deeper meaning in the Hebrew texts.  People, he reminds the reader of his notes in Commentary on the Torah (2001), were supposed to watch over the Garden of Eden, God commanded cherubs to watch over the tree of life, and Cain was supposed to watch over his brother.  Friedman concludes that the use of this Hebrew verb “becomes a standard expression in the Torah for conveying loyalty to God.”

Jealousy is born of resentment, not love.  And we cannot love God, whom we cannot see, if we do not love those whom we can see.  This love of God, which entails loyalty thereto, is consistent with arguing with God.  I have heard Judaism described as a faith system in which people argue with God; the name “Israel” derives from the story in which Jacob wrestles with an angel (or God).  Indeed, much of the Book of Psalms, when not in overly polite translations, reads much like “Look, Yahweh!  Where have you been for so long?”  And whoever coined the cliche “the patience of Job” seems not to have familiar with that text.  The title character is quite argumentative.

Yet this argument can occur “within the family” without leading to broken relationships.  God loves us always, but do love God?  And, in Genesis, God both punishes Cain and protects him; the murder must have consequences for the murderer, but death will not be among them.  Both judgment and grace and present.  The situation could have been worse, but how much better might it have been for all involved had Cain controlled his jealousy?

The sacrifices God desires, Psalm 50 tells us, are obedience and thanksgiving.  And Psalm 51:18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer) tells us,

The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Love (in Greek, agape), St. Paul the Apostle tells us in 1 Corinthians 13, does not insist on its own way.  With that in mind, let us consider the Pharisees in Mark 8:11-13.  Textual context is vital here; Jesus has just fed about 4000 people with a little bread and a few fishes, with many leftovers filling hamper-sized baskets.  And what do these “orthodox” religious men want?  They desire a sign.  Were they blind?  No, they were jealous.  The mere existence of Jesus disproved much of what they held dear.  His presence threatened their viability.  They were jealous.  And, if I were Jesus, I would be moody, too.  I would leave, also.  Who wants to spend much time around negative people?

Assuming that we love God, why do we?  Is it just because of signs?  I hope not.  This is selfish and shallow.  I propose that we ought to love God because God is God, and we are not.  Being God entails demonstrating certain attributes, among them grace.  Grace is scandalous; it reaches “good” religious people as well as prostitutes and half-breed heretics; it protects sinners and summons penitents.  Grace is inherently unfair, and therein lies its splendor.  And let us not be jealous; no, may we rejoice with our brethren.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-sin-of-jealousy/

Tenth Day of Advent   19 comments

Above:  Sheep

The Enduring Love and Justice of God

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2021 (YEAR C)

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FIRST READING (YEARS A AND C):  Isaiah 40:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

Comfort my people; bring comfort to them,

says your God;

speak kindly to Jerusalem

and proclaim to her

that her term of bondage is served,

her penalty is paid;

for she has received at the LORD’s hand

double measure for all her sins.

A voice cries:

Clear a road through the wilderness for the LORD,

prepare a highway across the desert for our God.

Let every valley be raised,

every mountain and hill be brought low,

uneven ground be made smooth,

and steep places become level.

Then will the glory of the LORD be revealed

and all mankind together will see it.

The LORD himself has spoken.

A voice says,

Proclaim!

and I asked,

What shall I proclaim?

All mortals are like grass,

they last no longer than a wild flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,

when the blast of the LORD blows on them.

Surely the people are grass!

The grass may wither, the flower fade,

but the word of our God will endure for ever.

Climb to a mountaintop,

you that bring good news to Zion;

raise your voice and shout aloud,

you that carry good news to Jerusalem,

raise it fearlessly;

say to the cities of Judah,

Your God is here!

Here is the Lord GOD; he is coming in might,

coming to rule with powerful arm.

His reward is with him,

his recompense before him.

Like a shepherd he will tend his flock together;

he will carry the lambs in his bosom

and lead his ewes to water.

FIRST READING FOR YEAR B:  Amos 5:18-24 (Revised English Bible):

Woe betide those who long for the day of the LORD!

What will the day of the LORD mean for you?

It will be darkness, not light;

It will be as when someone runs from a lion,

only to be confronted by a bear,

or as when he enters his house

and leans with his hand on the wall,

only to be bitten by a snake.

The day of the LORD is indeed darkness, not light,

a day of gloom without a ray of brightness.

I spurn with loathing your pilgrim-feasts;

I take no pleasure in your sacred ceremonies.

When you bring me your whole-offerings and your grain-offerings

I shall not accept them,

nor pay head to your shared-offerings or stall-fed beasts.

Spare me the sound of your songs;

I shall not listen to the strumming of your lutes.

Instead let justice flow on like a river

and righteousness like a never-failing torrent.

PSALM FOR YEARS A AND C:  Psalm 96 (Revised English Bible):

Sing a new song to the LORD.

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD and bless his name;

day by day proclaim his victory.

Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvellous deeds to every people.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

he is more to be feared than all gods.

For the gods of the nations are idols every one;

but the LORD made the heavens.

Majesty and splendour attend him,

might and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the LORD, you families of nations,

ascribe to the LORD glory and might;

ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name.

Bring an offering and enter his courts;

in holy attire worship the LORD;

tremble before him, all the earth.

Declare among the nations,

The LORD is King;

the world is established imovably;

he will judge the peoples with equity.

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad,

let the sea resound and everything in it,

let the fields exult and all that is in them;

let all the trees of the forest shout for joy

before the LORD when he comes,

when he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with justice

and the peoples by his faithfulness.

PSALM FOR YEAR B:  Psalm 50:7-15 (Revised English Bible):

Listen, my people, and I shall speak;

I shall bear witness against you, Israel:

I am God, your God.

Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,

your whole offerings always before me;

I need take no young bull from your farmstead,

no he-goat from your folds;

for all the living creatures of the forest are mine

and the animals in their thousands on my hills.

I know every bird on those mountains;

the teeming life of the plains is my care.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for the world and all that is in it are mine.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls

or drink the blood of he-goats?

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and fulfill your vows to the Most High;

then if you call to me in time of trouble,

I shall come to your rescue, and you will honour me.

Matthew 18:12-14 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said,]

What do you think?  Suppose someone has a hundred sheep, and one of them strays, does he not leave the other ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the one that strayed?  Truly I tell you:  if he should find it, he is more delighted over the sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.  In the same way, it is not your heavenly Father’s will that one of these little ones should be lost.

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Divine judgment and mercy are two sides of one coin; one goes where the other does.  The Hebrew Scriptures  and the New Testament condemn economic and judicial injustice repeatedly.  So it follows naturally that divine mercy for the exploited entails judgment on the exploiters.  This is as matters should be.

So we read on this day of Advent about grazing animals–and not even the brightest crayons in that box.  We read that God desires righteousness and social justice, not the sacrifice of animals or grains, and that all these creatures are precious to God.  In fact, we have a parable in which Jesus likens us to lost sheep in great peril.  The shepherd will seek and locate such a sheep then rejoice.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, of course.  This is an unexpected analogy for a figure of exaltation, for shepherds were smelly and toward the bottom of the totem pole.  Furthermore, they depended on the sheep for their livelihood, much as the animals depended on the shepherds for their safety.  So, as I reflect on this parable, I conclude that it says that God needs us, just as we need God.  And, when I bring in the other readings, I see that God’s shepherding of us entails a degree of discipline–not for vindictive punishment, but for instruction.  Tough love requires some pain at times, but the alternative is worse for us.

KRT

Written on May 31, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/the-enduring-love-and-justice-of-god/