Partner of God (# 1052)

12 08 2016

In the Lutheran Church (ELCA) calendar, this coming Sunday, August 14 will be the thirteenth century after Pentecost. The readings are as follows:
Jeremiah 23:23-29
Psalm 82
Hebrews 11:29-12:2
Luke 12: 49-56

For my first attempt at this exercise, these readings turned out to be difficult for me since the common theme is God’s judgment. This was not where I wanted to go. The reading from Luke reminded me of one of the current candidates for president of the United States “I came to cast fire upon the earth”. The Hebrews passage spoke of the trials of Old Testament figures. Jeremiah and Psalm continue the theme. Do we really need to suffer more than we do already, wallowing in our ignorance?

Rabbi Alexander Feinsilver in the introduction to his book _The Talmud for Today_, discusses the rabbinic period during which the Talmud was written. These rabbis believed that God cares. Man is not a “helpless pawn of fate” but a “partner of God”. Charity is an act of justice, “an attempt to right the economic injustice suffered by the needy”.(p. 4)

This brings us to Psalm 82 which begins and ends by talking about judgment, in common with the other readings for today. In between is the following:

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
They have neither knowledge or understanding, they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
I say, “You are gods,sons of the Most High, all of you’
nevertheless you shall die like men, and fall like any prince.”

Whether by fear of God’s judgment, or by our own initiation, here is our invitation to put aside our “little self”, and help our fellow travelers. The writer of this Psalm very kindly assumes that we have “knowledge or understanding” and do not walk about in darkness ourselves. It is a good reminder that we have more than we think we do, we just need to reach out to our less fortunate beings.

The Psalms in many ways were my introduction to mature poetry. When I was in school the day opened with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and a reading from the Psalms. I always enjoyed listening to them. I have since read and appreciated many of Milarepa’s songs. The theme of the Psalms is usually praise while Milarepa’s songs are always meant to teach, although he does begin every one with praise of Marpa, his teacher. Psalm 82 is an example of a Psalm that teaches.

1. Gr. Thankful for the gift of this day, and all the people I meet in it.

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