Response October 27th, 2016 It seems to be customary for post-1994 English-speaking finance ministers to include in their major speeches a few phrases in an African language. Yesterday, Pravin Gordhan...
The OLD TESTAMENT READING [WISDOM 1:13 – 15; 2:23 – 24] introduces three perennials (hoary issues?!) which often cause heated debate and / or sometimes raise difficulties even among committed believers.
Four verses from this extract remain pivotal.
1 Death was not Gods doing, he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living.
This verse must always remain fundamental in our thinking and reflection.
2 The worlds created things have health in them.
3 Yet God did make man imperishable.
4 It was the devils envy that brought death into the world.
Death, illness, suffering, terminal diseases, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, famine, drought, genocide: the list is endless. None of these, or any other tragedies, are – or ever were – a part of the Lords plan for his earth or for his people. The worlds created things have health in them.
Now, if we jump to # 4 we are confronted by the enormity of men and womens first sin – the consequences of which remain with us. We are unable to escape them. Sin and its consequences are now a part of our human condition: It was the devils envy that brought death into the world.
An essential part of the creation of human beings was the gifts of intelligence and free will. We are able to THINK THINGS THROUGH – discover, experiment, and develop the basic materials the Lord God enriched with possibilities: the worlds created things have health in them. The Devil (Satan, evil, perversion, or whatever you wish to call him, her or it!) had been excluded by the Lord from his plan. Gods original plan was perverted by men and women who freely chose (in the face of Satans temptation) to grant him access into Creation, and allow to enter Creation.
The result of this was the basic introduction of suffering into our human condition. Nevertheless, humans, even with the influence of Satan, were unable to totally destroy (only pervert) the Lords intention. Therefore: yet God did make man imperishable. So, RESURRECTION and real LIFE after death became a new reality.
God is not a puppet master who pulls the strings and allows bad things to happen. We ourselves are not puppets. Men and women remain FREE TO CHOOSE. In some strange but real way this fact is made evident by the way in which good people respond to the bad events with which they are faced. As we confront everything two basic truths remain steadfast: (i) Death was not Gods doing, he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living; and, (ii) Yet God did make man imperishable.
Finally, it all depends on how we use the gifts that alleviate and remedy the tragic situations that remain present in the world: The worlds created things have health in them. However, we cannot have it both ways – puppets on a string or free men and women! What do we choose to be?
Against this background the last stanza of TODAYS PSALM [29 or 130] takes on a very special meaning: “the Lord listened and had pity. The Lord came to my help … changed my mourning into dancing.” We are unable to do it on our own. This is what man and woman overlooked right at the very beginning. They failed to seek the Lords counsel, and tried to do it on their own.
Now look at TODAYS GOSPEL [MARK 5: 21 – 43]. Make a careful note of the two miracles. See the woman who “had suffered … for twelve years.” We all need to learn not to be so independent:”If I can touch even his clothes.” Faith in, and a relationship (no matter how minimal) with, Jesus works wonders: no magic wand but a CHANGE.
This change can, if we look at the second miracle, produce a life – even in the face of the impossible. It is possible to cope with suffering and, even death. “I tell you to get up.”
We all need, at various times in our lives, to hear Jesus words, “I tell you to get up.”
“Who touched me?”