Bible Readings for Saturday January 29th, 2011 – The 4th Week of Epiphany
*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.1. [A Psalm of David.] O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?
2. Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart;
3. who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
4. in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
5. who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be moved.1. And I said: Listen, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Should you not know justice?–
2. you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin off my people, and the flesh off their bones;
3. who eat the flesh of my people, flay their skin off them, break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a caldron.
4. Then they will cry to the LORD, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have acted wickedly.31. When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.
32. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.
33. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’
34. I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
35. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill? – Psalm 15:1
- … (Leaders if Jacob) who eat the flesh of my people, flay their skin off them, break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a caldron. – Micah 3:3
- “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:25
Is this whole “love each other” motif getting monotonous? Repetitive? Yes?
Too bad. There are numerous great reasons why Jesus and the bible “beat a dead horse” with this whole “love each other” concept: we didn’t “get it” then, and we clearly don’t “get it” today.
Just look at the mirrored situation we find today when we examine the actions of the “leaders” of Israel in the passage from Micah: they are “feeding” off of the people. They are flaying their skin off (high interest rates), breaking their bones (foreclosures) and cutting them up into little pieces (bankruptcy). And when the prophet asks, “Should they not know justice?”, we are not only dealing with the concept of punitive justice, but also equity (the Latin root as covered in yesterday’s post).
God loves without iniquity. He makes the rain fall and sun shine on the righteous and the unrighteous. Jesus calls us to love as he loved in today’s passage from The Gospel of John. Therefore we are called to sacrificing, unselfish, unconditional love for each other. How can a man spend his life acquiring an “embarrassment of riches” if he truly loves as God loves? Somehow he is able to think only of himself and love others? I think not.
And it is in this iniquity of material wealth, that the heart of man becomes perverse. Those who “have” either begin to prey upon the less fortunate to create “more” faster, or through growing cynicism and apathy, they become unmoved by the plight of their fellow children of God… or both.
When we prey upon the less fortunate, we act like the “leaders of Jacob”, financial and spiritual cannibals. When we do not act in the face of the need of others, we do not love as God loves.
I know you are thinking,” But I don’t prey upon the weak. I don’t ignore the cries of the less fortunate.”
Yes, you do. We all do. In this (now) tiny world of light-speed communication, simply answering the call for spare change of the man you can see and hear is not enough. What of the cries of millions who were slaughtered in genocide in Darfur? Where were we then? What about the people of Haiti, their entire way of life crushed beneath the ruins of their country? Pat Robertson felt they even deserved it.
America is the “ruler of the house” in today’s global community. How are we acting in that position? I fear we will know God’s answer one day if we are in dire straits: “Then they will cry to the LORD, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have acted wickedly.”
But what if America doesn’t follow suit? What if we start to live out our role as a (supposedly 80%) Christian world superpower, and instead of dominating through war and financial might, we demonstrate what selfless love looks like as a nation? What if?
And that is how Jesus said we would be known as his disciples, “…if you have love for one another”.
Can we be a nation of true disciples to the world? Or will we simply be yet another “leader of Jacob”?