More Questions

72If you are at all like me, you often have more questions than answers. I think that is a good thing. I’m always leery of anyone who seems to always have “the” answer.

Nothing in life is simple. I’m fairly sure at this point that it’s not meant to be. Puzzling seems to be a very human trait. We’re good at it.

So I confront the readings today and I find myself with more questions that answers.

Isaiah trumpets to the Hebrews who are returning from exile that Jerusalem awaits them. She awaits as a welcoming mother who will comfort in every way her children. She will care for their every want and need. We need only think of our own youth and the sweet comfort of a mother’s arms to soothe our bruised knees and our frightened minds at approaching thunder and lightning.

God, we understand, loves and cares for us in much the same way. God never is not Mother to us.

Paul tells us that he has died to all that is secular in the world. He lives in the Crucified Lord. Nothing else matters, not the Law certainly. Only this new person who has risen in the Risen Lord. No more will Paul concern himself with the mundane matters of earthly living.

Jesus speaks to his followers, selecting seventy-two to go in pairs to the towns he will later visit. They are in some sense to “prepare his way”. A whole series of instructions attach. They are confusing.

I struggle with what these readings are to mean to me.

In Paul I see a man, who by a revelation, has utterly turned about his life. He is poster child for the person who says A today and B tomorrow. The law enforcer now claims that the Law does not matter. He urges radical change, radical rethinking of what once was considered true. Are we to do the same? Are we to look at Church in some new ways? Are we to be thought blasphemer like Paul was?

Where is God in all this? How are we to know?

Paul seems to suggest that only by living utterly in the Cross can we be sure to make these radical changes rightly. Is that what he suggests?

And what of Jesus?

Why seventy-two?

Why in twos?

Why, why, why we ask.

What was it about these particular seventy-two? What of those not chosen? Why not the apostles? What made the seventy-two different? Better? Worse?

Jesus is at pains to make it clear that God is the actor, they merely the vehicle. Why should they greet no one along the way? Why burden only one household in the community for your entire stay? Why announce to the rejecting town that they are rejected? Is the point the teaching of the seventy-two or the work they will do on their travels? I wonder.

These questions puzzle me for nothing I read seems satisfying.

Surely there are answers to parts of the instructions. Jesus seems to want to make it clear that you are not the “main attraction” in these towns. No celebrations. No special foods. Go to them appearing as the poorest of the poor.

You are lambs. Not just sheep mind you, but lambs, the most vulnerable of the flock. You are laborers, God is the Master sending you. The message seems to be one of trust. Trust expressed in Isaiah and by Paul. Trust in God, all will be well.

Don’t trouble me or you with human things. Don’t worry about feeding yourselves, housing yourselves, petty squabbles about this or that. Trust.

That appears to be the only common thread I can see.

Or is it all about freedom from bondage? Are all these lessons in the freedom we find in Christ?

Yet the readings are rich in other things that call out for a deeper meaning.

I am unable to see it. And perhaps for me, that is my message today.

What am I blinded to by the logs that have created a log jam in my mind?

The readings seem to offer tantalizing ideas of greater and deeper truths.

It is a lot to ponder.

Do you have thoughts to offer?

I would be so pleased if you can give me an answer or two.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Jul 07, 2013 @ 13:11:19

    Sherry, I love your questions! And I think there is no definitive answer to any of them. If there were, what would be the point of returning to them over and over? What strikes me most about the sending out of the disciples (72 in all) is that Jesus inaugurates the faith journey of each one. Some will be welcomed. Others will not. Some will offer hope to those they meet. To others, they will be perceived as heretics and a serious threat. And how they are met will change from village to village, which will raise more questions and provide fewer answers.

    But is that not the life of faith? The deeper our belief, the further we plunge into uncertainty. The big answer, I think, is learning to live with uncertainty without fear. Something inside us wants to know everything that can be known, to be able to predict what will come our way. That desire for certitude and knowledge rests at the crux of the Eden narrative, doesn’t it? Knowledge–i.e., clear-cut understanding–of good and evil, right and wrong, is forbidden fruit that we must become comfortable with not holding, tasting, digesting.

    Yet when uncertainty is met with faith–the ability to confess we don’t know the answers–we are free to experience faith as God intended it. It is trust in the direction we’re given, knowing that whatever the day holds, we can live lives of victory and intention that glorify our Maker.

    So not knowing is, in itself, a blessing, as it causes us to reach for the One Who knows. It creates in us a life of expectation and promise that, as Paul said, though we only know in part now, one day we will understand it all better!

    Thank you for a lively and provocative reflection today. I pray that none of us ever grows so comfortable in our faith that we mistake it for certainty. Imagine losing all of those wonderful moments when we have no choice but to trust God’s promises! How tragic that would be!

    Many blessings, dear friend!
    Tim

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Jul 08, 2013 @ 08:20:55

      I love what you say about living in uncertainty draws us to the one who is certain. I’d never thought of it quite like that, and I do think that is a wonderful thought indeed. We do take our unanswered questions to God as we should. Learning to live with uncertainty is perhaps the hardest transition that a person makes (if they make it at all). Feeling comfortable there is even harder. But the longer you do it, the less troublesome it is I find. And it becomes the norm finally and you barely notice it at all! I do find some comfort in the discomfort of passages sometimes…I agree, it’s meant to be that way…otherwise once read, never to read again. Ambiguity seems a requirement where sacred writing is concerned I suppose. In fact it is the hallmark of all great writing. There must be something in the text that draws one back again and again to new lessons. !END

      Reply

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