Today’s Scripture Readings
Today Luke is telling us how frustrated Jesus was that not just the Pharisees but all kinds of everyday people did not recognize the key time of salvation that is before them. And Ephesians is reminding a later church community to preserve the unity that has been given to them.
Jesus asks the question, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” I think there are two issues contributing to resisting Jesus’ call for change.
First, like the Pharisees, people saw God’s action as long ago, something in their Scriptures. The Jews may be the chosen people but God was a power beyond reach. To see God as present in their lives as a person was sacrilegious. I think that problem still happens today, somehow things of Gods are spiritual and separate from the hard knocks of everyday give and take. Jesus’ accuses them of being hypocrites. His examples of what clouds and wind predict, point to what at the time, would have been simple adult awareness of the conditions of life. As we say today, “This isn’t rocket science.” People knew how the world worked. But this also applied to their social environment. The hypocrisy was not admitting that they also knew whether something new and good, was entering their lives. They could tell the difference between good deeds and bad deeds, status quo and significant change. They would know if someone was trying to introduce something new and transformative.
If that’s true, then the second issue is they simply didn’t want to take responsibility. Jesus second question points right at it, “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” Jesus’ example suggests that the smart person who is headed to court tries to come to an agreement before she gets there. That way her fate is still in her own hands. Once the judge takes over she will be subject to forces beyond her control. Still we aren’t always so eager to take the responsibility for making life changing judgments on our own. Too often we would prefer to find comfort or a ready answer from some outside authority. Let’s call it an excuse. It’s easier than taking a close look at ourselves. A look that might reveal things we would rather avoid. I’m not suggesting we should make our life decisions without talking to others or without seeking advice. What is important is that we remember that every decision we make, every action we do determines who we are. The stuff we do everyday is our decision. We can’t blame others for the kind of people we become. We too know, if we admit it, “which way the wind blows.”
These readings can remind us there are no separate parts to our lives. It’s all connected and it all contributes to who we are and what we will be tomorrow. It is a reminder of an amazing unity that is a call to us and a comfort. A call to see what is happening around us, to notice how we are reacting, to listen to what is being said and to live up to the gifts God has given us. A comfort in that we are in God’s care no matter what happens. Ephesians itemizes the list: one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God, the Father of all, over all, through all, and I think most importantly, in all.