Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
We humans don’t listen to directions very well. We have been given two commandments on which Jesus said hang all of the law and the prophets, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. Most of our world’s problems stem from our ignoring either one, or both of these commandments.
And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
It can be a great challenge to allow ourselves to see God in one another. When we’re able to see that light in each other we are at our best, our kindest and most merciful, generous and forgiving.
The breakers of death rolled over me, and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.
My friend Robert who lived with AIDS for many years, responded to my telling him how much I admired him for how hard he fought to stay alive by saying, “I don’t fight at all. I let everything wash over me like a wave, and when it’s passed I go back to my life.” As far as I know Robert never feared death or oblivion. His calm courage throughout his illness was inspiring; it was Robert who comforted his friends and family, rather than the other way around. The thirteenth anniversary of his death is approaching and upon reading this verse I mused that had Robert known the psalmist, this verse would not have been about fear.
Why do you stand so far off, O Lord, and hide yourself in time of trouble?
In times of trouble we may feel as if God is far off and has abandoned us; at those times we need to ask ourselves whether it is God who is standing far off, or have we in our troubles distanced ourselves from God.
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
Joseph of Arimathea was a righteous man who was a member of an unrighteousness council. His position must have been difficult, but, in the end he did the right thing. When there is corruption and unrighteousness in government we rely on the righteous to make their voices heard.
Lord, we pray that you will endow your people with strength and courage enough, that they may speak out against corruption and unrighteousness in the halls of government and in the boardrooms of the powerful.
Have mercy on me, O God, for my enemies are hounding me; all day long they assault and oppress me.
We can feel oppressed and assaulted by the news we read or see on TV or online, and it’s important for us to set aside some time each day to still our minds and to pray, to take a walk, or to sit outdoors and revel in the beauty that God has created.
‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
At some point we must acknowledge what we are becoming as a nation, and decide if that is acceptable to us. Will we withhold food and medical care from those who cannot afford it? Are we a people who’s conscience allows us to watch others suffer and do nothing to help? Will we no longer welcome the stranger? We are not our governments policies, but if we do nothing to oppose policies which hurt people then we are endorsing them by default.
As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Every congregation has Marthas, they come in all shapes sizes and genders. They work quietly, preparing meals for and cleaning up after church functions. Once in a while they might get a bit indignant because offers of help aren’t forthcoming from other members of the parish. Let’s share the burden and make sure that the Marthas in our lives aren’t overworked or under appreciated. If we share all the parts then no one is excluded from choosing the better part.
Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood.
Upon reading this passage, I’m wondering whether the early Church fathers would have thought that meat which is factory farmed and slaughtered in large mechanized abattoirs is spiritually polluted. In the past I’ve thought about this issue in the realm of ethics and sustainability, but perhaps there is a scriptural factor that I ought to consider as well.