Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Wed, 28/09/2011 – 11:10
Year A (2010-2011)
Bible Book: Exodus / Eksodus
Verse: 1 – 4
Text: Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
“What more could I have done?” is the unanswered question from God as He looks at the bitter harvest of His love and labour for His people. A people chosen to be a blessing to the world, to be transforming agents of God’s grace, but instead He saw rejection and spurning of His laws and guidance for life. He says ‘I looked for justice but saw bloodshed, for righteousness but heard cries of distress.’ He responds, not by destroying but by withdrawing His all encompassing protection and active intervention and leaves people the freedom to make their own choices and to be responsible for the consequences of those choices. This beautiful but sad allegory of Isaiah is a reflection not only of the days of Israel and Judah but of our times too.
In Matthew, our Lord tells a similar story of a vineyard but this time it is a parable directed at the failed responsibility of chosen elders and leaders of the people. It is an echo of Isaiah 3: 14 “it is you who have ruined my vineyard.” Like the Pharisees, we too can be held responsible and accountable for failing to protect and safeguard the many precious gifts, including life, which God has entrusted to us.
We live in an era of HIV and AIDS. It took some years for the world to realize that this was not just another medical disease but a devastating epidemic which has flourished in a milieu of stigma and discrimination and driven by conditions for which we all hold responsibility. Yes, many have made bad choices and will forever live with and suffer the consequences, the so called ‘individual sins of society.’However, we all hold the key to the ‘structural sins of society,’ which have facilitated the conditions under which the epidemic has spread relentlessly. These include the inequalities in opportunities and access; silence in the face of violence against women and children; complicity in the poverty that limits the survival choices some people may have to make; the stigmatization, discrimination and deliberate isolation of those perceived and judged to be ‘different’ to us; and the denial of information and helpful life-skills to our youth, because of our inability to discuss matters of sex and sexuality. Responding to HIV is not a choice nor is it charity. It is a necessity, a mandate, a justice issue and a spiritual requirement – ‘I looked for…’ In essence: we are required, exhorted and commissioned to ‘love one’s neighbor as one’s self.’
God’s love and compassion transcends the failures of His people. He allows us the freedom to make our own choices, which come with responsibility and consequences, but His mercy is always there, an unfathomable love expressed in the sacrifice of His son. We are called, as His people, to live in relationship with one another, reaching out with love and compassion, ensuring justice for all, as worthy stewards of His great gift to us.
‘Christ our Lord with love
Enormous from the cross
His lesson taught –
To love all men as I have loved you.’ Hymn – Anon.
Author: Parry S (Dr)