Blogger, host for this site, was down the last couple of days. It was in "read-only" mode, no entries, comments and the like could be entered. So today's D/O reflection, although primarily focused on the readings assigned for this Saturday of 3 Easter in Year One, will also reference some earlier passages we had this week.
In Luke today Jesus calls Levi, who becomes Matthew, and eats at his home with other tax collectors, ticking-off the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus seems to so-like-to-do-that: upset the status quo, pinch the rigid beliefs of the ruling class. Jesus says to them that he has been sent to cure not the righteous, but those who have gone astray. What the scribes and Pharisees don't ever get is the fact that everyone, including them, including all of us, go astray from time to time and need to be brought back to the common table of lost ones, to be greeted and welcomed and loved by Jesus once again.
One of the ways we all go astray at times is by not trusting in God, losing faith that, even when things seem to be going to hell-in-a-hand-basket, God is still present with us, supporting us through those trials. In yesterday's reading from Luke, that trust is given two examples: with the leper begging Jesus to be healed, and the friends of the paralytic who, physically, raise-the-roof so that their friend can be touched and healed by Jesus.
This theme of trust and faith is exemplified throughout the story we finish reading today in the Hebrew Testament: that of Daniel. Daniel's faith, his trust in God's love and care for him, never leaves him. Even when, as in today's ending story, he has been thrown into a den of lions overnight, and survived. What a metaphor for life as we know it.
There is an obvious resonance in this story of Daniel to the resurrection, of the king sealing the tomb to prevent Daniel from escaping. This story of trust and faith in God's close involvement in our lives, paired with our Gospel readings of the last few days, are stories that can strengthen us and carry with us always. In particular, in those very dark times of the soul when all seems lost. We can and will come out the other side of those difficult times. Perhaps not as we wished. We will be absolutely changed. But perhaps that is part of the point of these stories: our rules and regulations and expectations cannot bind the work of the Living God. Those bindings we create can become an aid to our straying from trust and faith. As our EP Psalm says: "Put your trust in God, for I will yet give thanks to the One, who is the help of my countenance, and my God."
We will stray. We will have times when we wander away. We will face challenging and difficult times in our lives. Jesus reminds us today that his assignment from God is to always be there at that table to welcome us back, and remind us that we were never alone on the journey.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: SW Waterfront in Late Spring, 2011, jfd+