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 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.