Proper 25 Year B (10/28/12)

19 Oct

Job 42:1-6,10-17 or Track 2 Jeremiah 31:7-9 & Psalm 126

Hebrews 7:23-28

Mark 10:46-52

 

Psalm 34:1-8,(19-22)

The LORD redeems the life of his servants;

none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

 

Opening Questions

  1. Assuming spiritual growth is important for Christians, how might we measure our success at achieving it?
  2. Life delivers difficulties to us all that sometimes serve as catalytical opportunities for growth in spirit.  How do people that do not have such difficulty grow their spirits?  Are life’s challenges required for spiritual growth?  (I’m reminded of a client who was getting a divorce and would have to scale back her lifestyle making the comment – somewhat remorsefully – “I guess I’ll just have to fly first class”)
  3. Are there ways to grow one’s spirit that do not require challenges?  What is our motivation to pursue them?
  4. Is it fair to say a person’s capacity for spiritual growth is directly related to their openness to ask (or be asked) questions?

Appointed Passages

Job 42:1-6, 10-17

1 Then Job answered the LORD:

2 “I know that you can do   all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

3 “Who is this that hides   counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

4 “Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you declare to me.’

5 I had heard of you by the   hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;

6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”

10 And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. 12 The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 He named the first Jemi’mah, the second Kezi’ah, and the third Ker’en-hap’puch. 15 In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. 17 And Job died, old and full of days.

  • Presuming we all sometimes “utter what we do not understand (v.3), how do we enhance our ability to recognize when we do, and translate that awareness into appropriate response?
  • How can we replicate what Job describes in verse 5 by not just hearing about God, but seeing Him?

Hebrews 7:23-28

23 Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

  • Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice (his life) which suggests in v.27 that he has no need to offer other sacrifices.  However, what sacrifices do living priests have to make in order to maintain their status?
  • How does “making an oath” (v. 28) change our religious standing?

Mark 10:46-52

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimae’us son of Timae’us, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

  • How does “throwing off our cloak” (v. 50) help open us to change?
  • The beggar shows simple clarity in posing a direct question for help.  Should we replicate this action (and if so, how) in our lives?

Comment

I suppose in some ways, we are all blind, aren’t we?  Such a condition requires a shift in the lives of those who have them.  I’m reminded of the unusually acute ability by blind people to use hearing and sensation as their windows into the world (and relationships) because sight is not available.  In loosing the ability to see, they somehow have a stronger ability to hear things beyond what seeing people might.

There is also an unusual sense of refreshing change when we cast away something very personal to our lives in favor of moving to a new place (“throwing off a cloak” so to speak – v. 50).  The action somehow places us in a more open and free mental posture to explore more fully, hear more clearly, perhaps see more clearly the value potential of change in a new way.  We somehow become unburdened an open to new ideas and possibilities.

In some ways, we are all perhaps needy beggars.  We all do need help from others.  Our relationships are supported by the “coins” or snippets time we spend with each other exchanging perspective and a bit of ourselves.

Perhaps what makes us well is our ability to embrace our dependency on each other and God…to appreciate with clarity who we are (and perhaps are not).

My prayer is that all of us periodically embrace the spiritual reality of our need to reach outside of ourselves for strength, comfort, and support.  God is available to us through prayers and the lives of others – we simply need to recognize that reality and be open in asking for help.

How long has it been since you threw off your cloak and said, “Have Mercy on Me”?

Quotes for Today:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

Henri Nouwen

 

“Judge others by their questions rather than by their answers.”

Voltaire

 

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

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