Genesis 34–36, Psalm 12, Matthew 12
Those who navigate rely on fixed objects to help them find their way. The North Star, mountains, rivers, and longitude and latitude provide points of certainty for people venturing on unfamiliar paths. Those who undertake spiritual journeys tend to seek similarly reliable points as they (we) try to be faithful in a changing landscape that rises into an unknown future.
The genealogies that tend to confuse the modern reader were part of our ancestors’ attempts to establish fixed points for their journey. These lists sought to establish the true owners and, therefore, the true inheritors of property both temporal and spiritual. In Jesus’ day the Pharisees relied heavily on certain fixed dogmas that told them whether they were on the right path. One of these was the sanctity of the sabbath, another was predictable pre-established signs of God’s favor, and a third was one’s place in family life. Unfortunately, Jesus shows that none of these provide the certainty that the faithful expected from them. In today’s reading, Jesus says that he has greater authority than sabbath laws; refuses to give a traditional sign; and rates his spiritual community above his nuclear family.
Lest we feel we are being left to wander, Jesus affirms in each instance that he is the fixed point. Our ongoing, living relationship with Jesus is what guides us on our journey. Today’s texts also remind us of a constant in that relationship: God’s concern for what the psalmist calls the despoiled poor and the groaning needy; the sick to whom Jesus responded; and, even in their rough way, the justice sought by Israel’s sons. When God’s concerns are ours, we have a fixed navigational point.
What have people relied on in the past to tell them that they were being faithful?
How does Jesus provide guidance for our spiritual journeys?
Blessed Lord, you have set us on a journey into an unknown future. Sharpen our eyes to see the path you have chosen for us, attune our souls to recognizing the Spirit that goes before us, quicken our hands to reach out to those who struggle beside us, and keep us in living relationships as we make our way. Amen.
-The Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade
Washington National Cathedral