Signpost for Sunday 25 October, 2015: Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Ps 34:1-8,(19-22); Heb 7.23-28; Mark 10.46-52.
The proto-novel which is the Book of Job was needed in the fifth Century BC to combat the error that all good and evil was from God, and rather dependent on your morals. That part of Job still needs proclaiming from the roof-tops. The nearest we can come to an answer is undoubtedly in the first part of our reading today. But the second part of this is rather harder to hear; there is no simple answer to the problem of evil. The third part is that God is great, and that appeals to even the last suicide bomber today. The second half of the reading is so out of synch with the first, one wonders if someone even then was being sarcastic. But God as the food-basket provider is also a strong emphasis of our Psalm for today.
As one of the fairly early fathers wrote, “Who is the author of Hebrews, God only knows.” This author seeks to show how the problem of sin and punishment is solved by the Christ. He is still in the ‘do wrong and you can expect bad consequences’ frame of mind of Job’s comforters, and he provides support for what Brye once called, “the heresy of penal substitution still prevalent in many people’s theology.”
One continuing matter for puzzlement that I think of occasionally now that I worship mainly in Anglican services is the use of the name priest for the ordained Anglican. As a Presbyterian I know about the priesthood of all believers, even if my church still hedges round the use of certain actions ‘for reasons of decency and good order’. So the Letter to the Hebrews builds on something that it claims to have been destroyed!
In Leviticus, the blind are excluded from the exercise of Aaronic priesthood; no blind thing can be an offering . . and so on. But the Lord opens the eyes of the blind (Psalm 146 etc). Mark’s contributors knew the Scripture. And they remembered a person claiming a miracle, since his family were part of the early church. But we are still bothered by this offering of an answer to a problem that has no answer!
The Lectionary also mentions the Maori Declaration of Independence 1835. Maybe we should all fly three flags in the immediate future; the present NZ flag, whatever is nominated by the first referendum and the Tino Rangatira flag. Is anyone celebrating this “feast” this Sunday?