Friday in the Octave of Easter


Lectionary: 265


On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly class. They brought them into their presence and questioned them, "By what power or by what name have you done this?"

The time is out of joint. O curs├Ęd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!

So complained Prince Hamlet when his murdered father appeared to him, despite the ban heaven had laid on such phenomena. The dead were not supposed to appear on Christmas Eve.

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes / Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated, / The bird of dawning singeth all night long. / And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad. / The nights are wholesome. Then no planets strike, / No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, / So hallowed and so gracious is that time.
The people of Jerusalem thought the time was out of joint when the Fullness of Time appeared among them and a new age -- or "dispensation" -- had begun. Neither they nor their leaders were prepared to welcome the Holy Spirit or to invoke the Holy Name of Jesus.

Many people in the United States, after World War II, believed the time was not right for the Civil Rights Movement. They urged postponement, or at least a slowing down, of the march toward full integration. Many preferred to "Wait till I am dead!" before they should have to meet, work with, pray with or talk to African Americans.

We know the time was precisely right for the Civil Rights movement; and the first century was precisely right for Jesus. He was born in the fullness of time, and was crucified when his hour had come. It is rank foolishness to suppose Jesus might have been born at another time, in another place or to a different woman. You and I are creatures of our time and place in just the same way; we have been created in the last age before the Judgment Day.

The Divine Author of the Letter to the Hebrews goes to great lengths to show us that we are the most fortunate generation. The eleventh chapter reviews the many generations who saw the Holy City from afar.

The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains,  in caves and in crevices in the earth. Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised.
In the twelfth chapter the same author reviews the blessings we have received which our ancestors only hoped for, and reminds us, "In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood."

Certainly our age is confounding. Not only could our ancestors have never imagined the changes of our time; we can't either! Very often we can't believe our own eyes and we say, "Is this really happening?"

Hebrews urges us to endure these trials as "discipline."

for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.” Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards. Besides this, we have had our earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not [then] submit all the more to the Father of spirits and live? They disciplined us for a short time as seemed right to them, but he does so for our benefit, in order that we may share his holiness. At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.
Our trials are not proof of God's anger but clear signs of his fatherly love. Encouraged by the Holy Spirit and equipped with his Holy Name, we embrace the challenges of our time even as Jesus embraced the cross in his time.

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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.