Lectionary Reflection: The Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost

By Jim Simpson

Friday, October 12

Job 23:1-9, 16-17; Psalm 22:1-15; Hebrews 4:12-16; Mark 10:17-31

How are we supposed to have a conversation with God? It’s easy to talk at God and perilously easy to talk past God. Talking with God is not so easy. 

In today’s Old Testament reading, Job complains that God has treated him unfairly by denying him an opportunity to defend himself, or at least to know the reason for his suffering. Surely Job deserves an audience. His arguments will come to be recognized someday as treasures of human thought. But God responds in perfect silence. Are confrontation, persuasion and reason (so much a part of our makeup) not God’s way?

A rich man runs up to Jesus, kneels before him, and demands to know whether observing the commandments will assure him eternal life. Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus looks at the man and loves him. In this holy and perfect instant of silence, there is recognition, acknowledgement and love beyond words. A moment later, Jesus advises the man to distribute his treasure to the poor. 

The letter to the Hebrews tells us that Christ is approachable and speaks through mercy and grace. We, on the other hand, are made to argue and complain. Yet we are also commanded to look, listen and love. Could it be that the conversations we desire with God are meant to take place in our conversations with each other?

The November elections are approaching. Elections are a public conversation; voting is speech. We have been listening to the arguments and the reasons. As always, the right use and distribution of wealth is at issue in the campaigns and ballot measures. Let us be mindful of Christ’s mercy and grace as we cast our votes.

This reflection was written by Jim Simpson. He is a member of the Grace Cathedral Congregation Council and a graduate of the cathedral’s Education for Ministry program.

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