Our age often seems bedeviled by huge global issues that defy simple answers. We have ongoing controversy over climate change and what we ought to do. We are faced with refugees from war-torn countries and our obligations to them. We debate war and military actions in distant lands—should we be there? My own land, Canada, suffers ongoing anguish over how to do right by our aboriginal peoples. These are all huge issues, marked by complexity and few simple answers.
Some, perhaps many, feel inclined to opt out of the confusion and anguish. It seems so much easier simply to do our work and play, raise our families, and ignore these political-social dilemmas.
A careful reading of today’s passage from Matthew suggests that is exactly what the chief priests and elders do with Jesus. They ask under what authority he acts. Jesus turns the question back to them—what do they think? Because any answer they give would commit them to some action or stance, they opt for silence. “We do not know,” they mumble finally.
If we retreat from the issues of our day, wring our hands, and declare we can do little, we have responded as the chief priests and religious leaders did so long ago. They opted to duck the question and stay on safe ground. But from the Gospels, we sense a call to respond. We can follow the news and become better informed. We can read up on issues or affiliate with organizations around particular concerns. Then we can respond in Christian action and witness out of an informed stance.
Christians are to respond faithfully, living out what they believe. We may experience stress and make mistakes, but silence (“we do not know”) is not a faithful choice.

Holy God, give us wisdom and patience to be faithful amid our own confusion. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 21:23-32

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Lectionary Week
September 25–October 1, 2017
Scripture Overview

The mercy of God is a theme that surfaces this week. In Exodus 17 Israel is not sure that God is faithful or reliable. By requesting water and voicing an urgent need, Israel appears to be testing God to discover God’s power and inclination. Psalm 78 praises Yahweh for grace in liberating the people from Egyptian bondage. Yahweh’s mercy sustained and supported them. Philippians 2 begins with a statement about the need for human kindness and compassion and then moves to the work of mercy that motivates human love—the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. In the reading from Matthew, the mercy of God, which is extended to those who normally receive no mercy, illustrates not only the inclusive nature of God’s grace but also how different the kingdom of heaven is from the kingdoms of this world.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Exodus 17:1-7. When has your “speaking out” been met with negative response? Have you ever felt you were standing too “close to the cross”?
• Read Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16. Today, listen for God rather than speak of God.
• Read Philippians 2:1-13. When have you emptied yourself and become a servant?
• Read Matthew 21:23-32. How well do your actions match your words in terms of obedience to the commands of Christ?

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