Today’s readings

The lectionary readings for today are: Psalm 44.1–26; Isaiah 30.1–18; Matthew 14.1–12.

There is something in these verses about the strange powerlessness of the powerful. Although the rulers of the world may have the power to crush people, they may not always get what they want or achieve their aims.

In the time of Josiah (640–609 BCE), Egypt and its ruler seemed, to many in Israel, to offer the best hope of survival against the region’s competing imperial powers. The prophet Isaiah envisions an alternative that is already being rejected.

“In returning and rest you could be saved.
In quietness and in trust could your heroism consist.
But you are not willing!” (Isa 30.15 tr. Watts, John D W, Isaiah 1–33, Word Biblical Commentary, 1985, Word, 392.)

For Isaiah, Egypt’s is a fragile and illusory power that cannot offer true security and strength.

According to the account in Matthew 14, Herod was powerful enough to have John the Baptist executed but he was afraid of the crowd and so eager to please his wife and his dinner guests that he could not stand for what was right.

Our own circumstances may be very different from those represented by today’s readings. Still, the crises in today’s financial institutions remind us that not everything in which we put our trust is finally worthy of it. What one day seems as solid as a rock can quickly turn to sinking sand.

Advent provides the opportunity for us to reorganise our lives around faith, and to place our trust in God. This will not always prolong our lives (it didn’t for John the Baptist) but it might help us to live them more meaningfully.

One Response

  1. Wow, I had never thought about those passages that way! Thank you for the new insight. 🙂

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