This is a blog that I post to several times a week although not necessarily daily. These reflections are triggered by the scripture found in the lectionary used by many Christian denominations. While I am part of the Catholic tradition, these posts are not --or rarely--sectarian. I try to put myself in the space of a of Jesus Christ and listen to words that come to me as I read and pray the scriptures. Each post also includes a photograph. These rarely have any connection to the content of the post but are simply pleasing images that I capture as I make my pilgrimage through life.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Joy in the midst of disaster and suffering

Unity Village in Less Summit MO outside Kansas City
For though the fig tree does not blossom,and no fruit appears on the vine,Though the yield of the olive failsand the terraces produce no nourishment,Though the flocks disappear from the foldand there is no herd in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD and exult in my saving God.  Habakkuk 3:17-18
The passage above is not from the daily lectionary readings but quoted in a book by Walter Brueggemann,  Reality, Grief, Hope:  Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks.   This is a book I highly recommend.  Christians have typically understood the Hebrew Scriptures in light of the Christian revelation.  Of course, the authors of these books were about something very different.  They were writing about the action of the Divine One in the life and reality of the Hebrew people.  Thus they have a meaning and a significance quite apart from a strictly Christian interpretation.  As a leading Old Testament scholar, Brueggemann has labored his entire professional life to reclaim that original meaning and share it with Christian believers.

This passage struck me because it expresses a theme that I have found recently in the lectionary readings.  Our sense of being blessed can be based on the circumstances of our life only at our own peril.  Whether things go well or ill for us, for me, I can still find a sense of blessedness and joy.  As challenging as that may be, it is an ancient sentiment of the long Judeo-Christian tradition.  In my own overly affluent world, it is all too easy to become confused on that point and focus on the goods and security I enjoy as though they are evidence of the Divine One's love for me.  It is only a small step to the conclusion that the Divine One loves some of us more than others and from that flows a poisonous stream of violence and persecution.

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