Dear God, I was attending the Catholic church this morning and some of the verses really struck me. As a Protestant, I have not been exposed to the Apocrypha much, but I’m really coming to appreciate it’s role in the Christian faith.
Old Testament Reading
I mention that because the Old Testament reading this morning was from Sirach 35. Verses 14-16 caught my ear this morning:
14 Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it;
15 and do not rely on a dishonest sacrifice;
for the Lord is the judge,
and with him there is no partiality.
16 He will not show partiality to the poor;
but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged.
I’m not sure which translation the church uses in its missal, but the way the missal translated the part about the poor was, “The LORD is God of justice, who knows no favorites. Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet he hears the cry of the oppressed.” I like that you love the poor and you will listen to the prayer of the weak, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will show partiality. There is fairness. There is justice. Just because I happen to be poor does not give me license to steal or abuse others. At the same time, you are there to love and comfort them. You are there to help provide through your own means and through your church. Help us to know what that means and looks like.
Ironically, the Psalm was parts of Psalm 34. The repeated refrain was “The LORD hears the cry of the poor.” The last verses used in the psalm say, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. The LORD redeems the lives of his servants; no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.” I know some people whose spirits have been crushed. You know who is on my heart right now. Hear their cry. Hear my cry for them. Holy Spirit, give them comfort. Show those of us who know them how to love them. Let your light shine on them through us. And help us to be their defenders on your behalf.
New Testament Reading
The reading is from Paul’s second letter to Timothy. I don’t know why they selectively chose just verse 6-8 and 16-18, but the words in 16-18 struck me:
16 At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
There are some people I know right now who are worthy of defending. I’ve prayed a lot about them over the last few days. Raise up defenders in your church for them. Love them. Encourage them. Use their persecution to draw them closer to yourself. Use it to draw all of us closer to you.
Finally, there is the one I was wanting to get to. In Luke 18:9-14, Luke prefaced Jesus’s parable about the two men who went to the temple to pray by saying, “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.” Man, do those words ring true right now in our current society. People are claiming the high ground and righteousness in your name and using that as justification to abuse others, discount others, and, frankly, bully others.
Holy Spirit, show me the areas in my life where I am that arrogant person who needs to repent and not despise. Help me to be part of offering your comfort to the oppressed. Help me to be part of your solution in working with the disenfranchised and suffering. I have prayed a lot this morning for particular people. Hear my prayer, Oh, God!
I pray this through Jesus my Lord,