Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 341

He asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?"


As Jesus, still glowing with the exhilaration of transfiguration, came down the mountain he found his disciples locked in heated conversation with scribes, while an expectant crowd watched and a single man agonized about his tormented son. 

The Savior asked, "What are you arguing about with them?" and, predictably, they didn't answer. It had something to do with the father and his boy. We are not told the sides of the debate. It didn't matter. Neither the scribes nor Jesus' disciples could help the child and his father, so they just argued about it. Perhaps they argued about who is to blame for demonic possession, or who is to blame for their helplessness. 

With the impulsive boy about to throw himself again into water or flames this is no time for argument. This is time for action, which is what Jesus does. 

Our reading from the Book of the Wise Man Sirach, begins with "All wisdom comes from the LORD and with him it remains forever, and is before all." 

If we understand "wisdom" as a kind of knowledge dissociated from action, as a set of ideas and opinions and doctrines, we know nothing. If we suppose we can argue about good ideas and bad, and then go home again to watch television, we're missing the point altogether. Knowledge wants action and God's wisdom acts. 

As I understand the Hebrew concept of wisdom includes skill. There are wise teachers of proverbs and wise carpenters; the word is the same. Jesus the wise man knows how to heal the boy and uses his wisdom immediately.  

I confess, I do not know what to do. When I was a pastor in Jennings, Louisiana I talked with other pastors about the epidemic of drug abuse and alcoholism. We didn't know what to do. One Saturday morning we organized a protest march and walked from the black end of town to the white, highlighting the fact that it was not a racial issue. Politicians and other leaders joined us, along with a respectable number of black and white citizens. The junkies and pushers were still abed when we finished our march and went home for lunch. 

In the VA I meet Veterans caught up in chemical addiction and discuss "spirituality" with them. I hope they meet in this conversation and the program a healing fellowship that can actually set them free. They may join us or die, but no one can decide for them. 

Arguments cannot save us. Arguments about abortion, suicide, drug addiction, Trump or the rights of minorities cannot save us. We must finally turn to Jesus and say, "I do believe, help my unbelief!"

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.