A highlight of my recent pilgrimage to Israel came in observing an aged rabbi walking toward the Western Wall. He did not walk alone. Five young men followed close behind. They followed in his footsteps, bodies inclined and taking each step with some difficulty, the same way as their teacher. They imitated him because they were his followers.
In the Jewish tradition, being a follower of the local Jewish rabbi brought honor and distinction. The followers sit at the rabbi’s feet to learn. They study his vocabulary and his response to the facts of life. Their principal virtue comes in serving him, even in the most insignificant of tasks. They remain determined to be like him.
In the Christian tradition, Jesus comes to us speaking two simple words: “Follow me!” Jesus invites us to follow: to share his passion serving those seeking the way to salvation. In these verses, Jesus expresses his thoughts about “this generation.” “This generation” has been exposed to the ministries of John the Baptizer and Jesus: John, the sober, austere man who calls for repentance, and Jesus who comes proclaiming the nearness of the kingdom and who sits at table with many different kinds of people. “This generation” labels one as crazy and the other as a drunkard and glutton. People had heard the good news proclaimed by both men and have chosen to follow neither. They do not dance or mourn.
Jesus knows the father. He has intimate knowledge of our Creator. True wisdom has been hidden from the wise and intelligent. We are those who follow. We sit at the feet of the cross and listen. We follow in the steps of Jesus’ public ministry and go in peace to serve our Lord. It is the Jesus way.
Most gracious Lord, may we share your promises with those in need and follow you with joy and thanksgiving. Amen.
The Genesis text tells of Abraham’s quest to find a bride for Isaac from among his own people. In opting for Isaac, Rebekah makes herself the instrument for the preservation of the promise; God’s intentions are sure. A hymn honoring the marriage commitment is a good pairing with Genesis, since the Song of Solomon addresses the sweetness of love. Romans 7 depicts a battle of human life. Here the strong desire to do good and serve God rightly is threatened by the enemy of sin. Jesus’ prayer in Matthew recalls that knowledge of sin’s defeat often comes to those “infants” to whom God has granted revelation.
• Read Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67. How difficult is it for you to trust that God will act for your good, even if you nd yourself waiting?
• Read Song of Solomon 2:8-13. Whose voice have you known as beloved? How did it waken you to creation’s beauty?
• Read Romans 7:15-25a. How might you let God’s understanding love make a change in your actions?
• Read Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30. Jesus offers rest for our souls. How do you tap into that wonderful offer?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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