Monday, October 29, 2012

Bartimaeus: A man with vision

October 22nd, 2012, Pentecost 22, Proper 30

In a broad sense, the Book of Job tells the story of a man who feels that he has been wrongfully persecuted by God, who turns against God, and who eventually turns back to God.

Three other characters who play heavily in the Book of Job are Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  The bulk of the book consists of these three trying to convince Job not to curse God for what has happened to him.  After lengthy discussion, Job ignores their counsel and curses God.

Ironically, the epilogue of the book which we read today portrays God rebuking the three for having not spoken rightly of Him as Job had done.  In defending God, one would have thought God would be pleased with the three, but this is not the case.

Some theologians feel that Job’s saving grace was that he was honest with God.  He was angry at God and he let Him know it instead of trying to subdue his anger with religious platitudes.  This invites us to reflect on the degree of honesty with which we approach God.  Do we let Him know how we really feel?

The book ends much like a familiar fairy tale, with Job being rewarded and receiving much more than he had before all this began.

Having outlined and explained that Christ is a high priest, the author of Hebrews places an emphasis on the perfection of Christ.

This perfection does not seem to refer so much to the perfection of Jesus as a person, but rather to the perfection of his sacrifice, as sacrifice which the author links back to the animal sacrifices performed by the high priests.

The author seems to indicate that the Law and animal sacrifices were unable to bring perfection to the priesthood because the priests themselves were mortal and fallible.

Christ, being eternal and being of one substance with God, was able to establish that perfect covenant with God through his own sacrifice.

These are lofty concepts, and difficult to grasp, but it must be remembered that Hebrews was written sometime in the early 60’s.  While Christianity was at that point a movement distinct from Judaism, many of its adherents had come from a Jewish background.  With its consistent references to the Old Testament, it can be deduced that much of the Book of Hebrews is an attempt to reconcile the two thought systems.

This sermon focused mostly on the Gospel passage for this week, Mark 10:46-52

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