The Saint Benedict Center in Schuyler, Nebraska, is a beautiful spiritual retreat center. It has soaring ceilings and long, expansive hallways. The breathtaking perspective its ceilings and hallways offer communicates an essential message: You are small, especially in comparison to the awesome beauty of God.
Psalm 82 begins with that familiar perspective. Our God is the High God above all other gods, sitting in council over the state of the world. God is high above us, out of our league. God castigates lesser gods for their lack of compassion for the lowly, the poor, the destitute, and the powerless. The High God asks the lesser gods, Why have you abandoned the fortunes of these most vulnerable of God’s children? (Remember yesterday’s covenant thing?)
Yet here again things seem askew. The world likes to reinforce the diminishing message that keeps us powerless, too tiny to make a difference. The poor remain poor, the defenseless remain at the mercy of their abusers, and there is nothing we can do about it. While much of religion makes us feel small, the psalmist sees things differently. “I hereby declare, ‘You are gods, children of the Most High—all of you!’” (ceb).
We are not small in God’s eyes. Psalm 8 tells us that we are just a little lower than God. Divine perspective empowers the lowly and challenges the powers that be. It never reinforces them. God empowers us to take on the causes of those who are closest to God’s heart. We sit in council with the Most High God, considering the situation of the world. How’s that for a different perspective?
Change our perspective, Most High God. Teach us to see the hope you place in our hands, and then use those hands to change the world. Amen.
Amos is a farmer called by God to deliver a message to Jeroboam, the king of Israel (the Northern Kingdom in the divided monarchy). Because the king has not listened to the warnings from God, judgment will come. The psalmist also warns of judgment, in this case for those who oppress the weak and needy and fail to protect them from the wicked. Such heartless people will surely be brought low by God. The opening to the letter to the Colossians is a prayer of thanksgiving for their faith in Christ and the spiritual fruit they are producing in the world. The parable in the Gospel reading challenges our human tendency to ignore need. Jesus teaches that mercy should overcome any reason we might find to harden our hearts.
Read Amos 7:7-17. Look for God’s plumb line in the world. In what ways is the ground you stand on askew?
Read Psalm 82. If you sit on the council of the Most High, how does this change your perspective on the world?
Read Colossians 1:1-14. Prayers of mere words are just the beginning of prayer. To what prayerful actions do your prayerful words call you?
Read Luke 10:25-37. The author writes, “Even those trying to be faithful walk askew.” Consider how you live out Jesus’ call to love your neighbor.
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