Sunday 29th October (Ordinary 30), by Local
Preacher Jenny Clark, (Yate)
Psalm 90:1–6, 13-17; Deuteronomy 34:1–12; 1 Thessalonians 2 : 1 – 8; Matthew 22 : 34 – 46
I don’t know how many of you enjoy quizzes but TV is full of them and the testing of knowledge is no longer reserved for a school examination, it is a leisure activity! We are told that using our memory is a great way to keep it active so when we look at today’s lesson, like the many examples already presented gospel, we have the kind of question that was carefully fashioned not to just test Jesu’s knowledge but to catch Him out!
Jesus is able to give very solid answers to the Pharisees and Sadducees because he is a scholar but the actions that support these words are the real challenge which Jesus takes forward with the parables and the teaching He gives. It is active and practical, not weak or placatory! Jesus then poses His question to the Pharisees about the lineage of David and while the answer they give is accurate, it is not adequate! Jesus opens up the wisdom of love in kindness and in suffering.
My mother-in-law was lovely but she often asked difficult questions like, “what do you keep in the back room as the door is always closed?” or “Shall I help you put those things away in the cupboard?” I am sure she knew that I threw things in a vacant room to appear tidy and all my cupboards were full of things I needed to discard! Unfortunately keeping things out of regular sight means that they clog up the smooth running of important things and I am now still working through countless items I should have processed.
We are confronted by a world where politics and ideologies are tearing humanity apart. Jesus came to bring the understanding that love is hard and needs to be diverse and encompassing, but we do have a solution to bring peace and harmony. As I write this reflection, Israel and Gaza are in conflict fuelled by a group who has a very different agenda. There is still a huge need to confront the most difficult issues and questions in a way that will bring lasting solutions. Jesus knew that solutions were possible and not built on power and fear but on love and forgiveness, one person at a time. War zones abound with sacrifice, care and love, so should a world at peace.
The hard questions Jesus asked the Pharisees were about the roots of their faith. David was a warrior but he knew the demands of a loving God and certainly fell short on occasions. Salvation shows that it is within the capabilities of us all. How many of us like to hide our troublesome thoughts and anxieties, our wobbles of faith, our complacency or our lack of focus and ability? No one asked any more questions after Jesus challenged the Pharisees as they knew the power of God demands absolute obedience. Jesus showed impossibilities could become possibilities with absolute faith through miracle and resurrection. Do we still look in the right place for our strength and understanding?
Lord, help us not to turn away from the uncomfortable truths of life but recognise that there is direction and comfort in bringing ourselves to you in prayer, where all of our unasked questions will be answered and challenges issued! Amen