Getting it right

Tonight’s psalm is Ps. 44. One of the things that strikes me is how confident the psalmist is that Israel has done nothing wrong — that they are keeping the covenant just fine. I don’t remember any stories about a time like that, when faithful Israel was given over to enemies. I remember a lot of stories of opposite moments, when Israel, caught up in idolatry, the worship of false gods, and also failing at social justice, was given over to enemies.

Also, verse 5: “Through you we pushed back our adversaries; through your Name we trampled on those who rose up against us.” There’s quite a bit of this sort of thing in the OT — an us and them mentality, in which God’s having a chosen people is about making them victorious at the expense of all other peoples, instead of being about the chosen people being a vehicle for the blessing of God to flow to all other peoples. That strand is also throughout the OT, though. I’m not quite sure how they fit together. In the one strand there’s a sense of judgment against idolatry, falsehood, injustice, and so on; and that’s good, because those things are not good. If only that strand didn’t so often take the shape of us vs. them. Anyway, my first thought on reading this verse was maybe these are the people who will say to Jesus, “Lord, Lord, what about all the stuff we did in your Name,” and he’ll say “I never knew you.” (How do the universalists deal with that passage, by the way?)

The Gospel lesson is the second half of Mark 5. It includes one of my favorite stories, especially in light of what I was talking about yesterday. The woman with chronic bleeding who touched Jesus’ robe? And he makes a point of seeking her out and giving her his full attention, face to face. It’s still just a single moment… but he could have easily just kept on walking. The frame for this story is the story of Jairus’s daughter. Why does Jesus tell the people she is not dead but sleeping? It’s a lie, right? Or did he know something about her illness that we and the people did not know?

One of the things I have been noticing lately, in the Mass and the Office, is the prevalence of the word “mercy.” This is a good word to have prevalent, a word dear to those who feel the need of it.


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