Again, a common theme runs through the selected texts for next Sunday, October 28th.
Job 42:1-6, 10-17
- Sad and sorry Job, accommodating God’s ineffability, reorients his trust in God.
- God rebukes Job’s “oh so right” would-be comforters and feeds them humble pie.
- The closing elysian scene sees Job’s good fortunes and family richly restored.
So what’s the point of the Job saga? What role did it play in the faith community from which it arose? How does it play out today?
Now as then, with prosperity doctrine married to the politics of economic rationalism, we are offered a counterpoint that upholds the dignity of the individual and a warning against confusing God with mammon.
This prayer of praise echoes the stance of one who, like Job, is reoriented to trust in God in spite of a rough time. Against the zeitgeist of a retributive religious system, the psalmist concludes: “The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”
Contrasting the work of Jesus as eternal High Priest against the appointed high priests of the old sacrificial system, we come to the crux of the Letter to the Hebrews. Christ has ushered in a new age, a new way of being before God. The old system repetitively cycled God’s people through the need to have their short-fallings made good through the ministrations of equally fallible high priests. The non-fallible Christ, taking on the role of High Priest, breaks the cycle, presenting God’s people as perpetually right with God. Does this mean we no longer sin? No, discerning, confessing and repenting is still part of our inner spiritual cycle, but with an infinitely more confident trust in our calling to Christ-likeness and the fulfillment of Christ-like vocation.
The healing of blind Bartimaeus is pregnant with meaning in Mark’s telling. An intriguing place to begin is by noting that from all gospel incidents of Jesus healing the blind, it is only here that one is named. Our attention is drawn immediately to the interplay between the identity of the blind man (“Son of Timaeus”) and his raspy calling out to Jesus as “Son of David.” One commentator delves into the Aramaic roots of the name Timaeus postulating its ambiguity of meaning. Does Bartimeaus present as the “son of fame” or the “son of shame?” Either needs rescue from metaphorical blindness if they are to see with the vision of the way of Christ! Bartimaeus trust is uninhibited as he abandons his cloak and, seeing, falls in behind Jesus as he enters his final days.