Sun, 8 September 2019
O slave to the slaves,
to those who came in chains
to the new world,
those whose dark skin
made them seem to eyes of flesh
less than men…
to you these were children of God,
souls to be saved by His love
and through His Church,
and so the thousands
baptized by your hands
celebrate your glorious sacrifice
this day in God’s presence –
pray for us, dear brother,
that the shackles of racial prejudice,
the pride that exalts man above man,
shall fall from our hands,
our tongues and our hearts,
and that all of the Lord’s holy people
will work so diligently
as you, His blessed slave,
for the care of the weakest among us
and the salvation of all souls.
Sun, 8 September 2019
(Col.1:24-2:3; Ps.62:6-7,9; Lk.6:6-11)
“We admonish all men and teach them in the full measure of wisdom,
hoping to make every man complete in Christ.”
It is Paul’s desire to see the nations “enriched with full assurance by their knowledge of the mystery of God – namely Christ – in whom every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden.” It is his desire for us all to be filled with this wisdom that is Christ, for it is his call from Christ to bring His Gospel forth to the eyes and ears of the whole world, to “fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church.” And it is our call to join Him in such sufferings in Jesus’ name, that indeed His Word might come to its fullness, that indeed in such suffering we might find with Paul the joy of knowing “the mystery hidden from ages and generations past but now revealed to His holy ones.” This “glory beyond price” is ours as we listen to His Word, as we follow in His ways.
Jesus shows Himself to be the model teacher, the teacher of teachers, the Word itself, in our gospel today. “On a sabbath Jesus came to teach in a synagogue where there was a man whose right hand was withered.” For Jesus the synagogue was hostile territory, for the scribes and Pharisees “were on the watch” to “find a charge against Him,” to catch Him in His teaching. Jesus does not turn away from the danger before Him but confronts them with the limitations of their interpretation of the teaching perhaps most dear to them – the command to keep the sabbath holy. He would teach them the full meaning of this command; He would fulfill this wisdom before them, showing them that God does not preclude the doing of good for others on the sabbath, that this day made for rest is thus truly a day made for healing and that this day is therefore the best to come to Him for healing – for what does He wish for us but our healing, our salvation? But being blind to the love of God and His desire for good and the good of all, they do not perceive His lesson, and make it instead a cause to “destroy” the Son of God.
It is difficult to understand how these leaders of the people could become “frenzied” at the healing of one of their flock – how can this be evil to do on the sabbath? But we must remember that blindness to the will of God is not the sole possession of these scribes and Pharisees. It is a foolishness which is part of us all in our all-too-human thoughts and actions. It is this blindness which the Lord calls us from; it is this wisdom known in Christ to which Paul would direct us all. Let us join with him, with Jesus, in the “work and struggle” to bring God’s healing word forth to the hands and hearts of all. “God is our refuge.” Let us firmly “trust in Him” and in His wisdom, and we shall be made whole.
O LORD, let us be whole in your sight
by the sacrifice of your Christ.
YHWH, in your Son every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden. In Him let us take our refuge, that we might be taught in fullness of your goodness, of your love for us, and come to share in that love with all your holy ones.
O LORD, let us not harden our hearts against your work in our midst, against your Son come among us to lead us to you. Let us not rather stay the path we travel in our blindness but recognize before the great mystery you reveal to us in the presence of your Son that we fall short of His glory because of our limited vision, and embrace the wisdom He holds out to us.
O let us stretch forth our withered hands! that we might be healed of all the wickedness in our hearts and come to serve you and your Church as you call us. In suffering for the sake of your kingdom may we find our joy with Christ; ever strengthened and united in His love, let us take our refuge in the glory He bears us.