Above: Front of the 1934 U.S. $100,000 Bill (Worth $1,630,000 in 2010 Currency)
Images of U.S. banknotes are in the public domain.
God, Injustice, Wealth, and Misplaced Attachments
The Sunday Closest to October 12
Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost
OCTOBER 11, 2015
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #1
Job 23:1-9, 16-17 (New Revised Standard Version):
Then Job answered:
Today my complaint is bitter;
his hand is heavy despite my groaning.
Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
that I might come even to his dwelling!
I would lay my case before him,
and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would learn what he would answer me,
and understand what he would say to me.
Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
No, but he would give heed to me.
There an upright person could reason with him,
and I should be acquitted forever by my judge.
God has made my heart faint;
the Almighty has terrified me;
If only I could vanish in darkness,
and thick darkness would cover my face!
Psalm 22:1-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
and are so far from my cry
and from the words of my distress?
2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer;
by night as well, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are the Holy One,
enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
4 Our forefathers put their trust in you;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 They cried out to you and were delivered;
they trusted in you and were not put to shame.
6 But as for me, I am a a worm and no man,
scorned by all and despised by the people.
7 All who see me laugh me to scorn;
they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,
8 ”He trusted in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, if he delights in him.”
9 Yet you are he who took me out of the womb,
and kept me safe upon my mother’s breast.
10 I have been entrusted to you ever since I was born;
you were my God when I was still in my mother’s womb.
11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
12 Many young bulls encircle me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me.
13 They open wide their jaws at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water;
all my bones are out of joint;
my heart within my breast is melting wax.
15 My mouth is dried out like a pot-sherd;
my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
and you have laid me in the dust of the grave.
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #2
Amos 5:6-7, 10-15 (New Revised Standard Version):
Seek the LORD and live,
or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire,
and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.
Ah, that you will turn justice to wormwood,
and bring righteousness to the ground!
They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
Therefore because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins–
you who afflict the righteous, who takes a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an easy time.
Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.
Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
Psalm 90:12-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
13 Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry?
be gracious to your servants.
14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;
so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us
and the years in which we suffered adversity.
16 Show your servants your works
and your splendor to their children.
17 May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us;
prosper the work of our hands;
prosper our handiwork.
Hebrews 4:12-16 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the yes of him with whom have to do.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Mark 10:17-31 (Revised English Bible):
As he was starting out on a journey, a stranger ran up, and, kneeling before him, asked,
Good Teacher, what must I do to win eternal life?
Jesus said to him,
Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not give false evidence; do not defraud; honour your father and your mother.’
But Teacher, I have kept all these since I was a boy.
As Jesus looked at him, his heart warmed to him.
One thing you lack,
Go, sell everything you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.
At these words his face fell and he went away with a heavy heart; for he was a man of great wealth.
Jesus looked round at his disciples and said to them,
How hard it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!
They were amazed that he should say this, but Jesus insisted.
Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
They were more astonished than ever, and said to one another,
Then who can be saved?
Jesus looked at them and said,
For men it is impossible, but not for God; everything is possible for God.
What about us? We have left everything to follow you.
Truly I tell you: there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother, father, or children, or land, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much–houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and land–and persecutions besides; and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Some Related Posts:
Proper 23, Year A:
Proper 23, Year B:
Matthew 19 (Parallel to Mark 10):
A Prayer for Proper Priorities:
A Prayer for Humankind:
For the Right Use of Possessions:
Job sought God and, in Chapter 23, did not find him. In the next chapter he complained about rampant injustice, a subject which also vexed the prophet Amos. The rich man in Mark 10 also sought God, yet his attachment to his wealth got in the way.
Do not rely on your money and say, “This makes me sufficient.”
Do not yield to every impulse you can gratify
or follow the desires of your heart.
Do not say, “I have no master”;
the Lord, you may be sure, will call you to account.
–Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 5:1-3, Revised English Bible
Both economic injustice and idolization of wealth are sins which go hand-in-hand. Indeed, the idolization of wealth and one’s corresponding social status can lead to more economic injustice by way of Social Darwinism, which is an unfortunate and misleading label, for Darwin wrote about animal species, not human socio-economic status. It is easier to cling to wealth in lieu of God when one has much money than when one is quite poor, but both the rich and the poor can cling to a great variety of false security blankets.
We–regardless of status–need to have just one security blanket.
As the author of Hebrews reminds us, we can
approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.–4:16, New Revised Standard Version
Our worthiness is in Christ, who died by an unjust act and was therefore acquainted with human inhumanity. So, where is God in the midst of injustice? God is in the midst of if with us, suffering with us. God, who identifies and suffers with us, is our legitimate security blanket.
Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR