Daily Office Readings for Monday of Proper 22: Year 2
“When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.’ When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.)” (Acts 23: 6 to 8)
Perhaps Paul was playing them against one another in a way that would buy him more time. But perhaps there was a deeper rationale behind his oratory. Perhaps Paul wanted simply to state his most sincere belief and his new understanding about the history of the scriptures and the prophets as had been revealed to him through the Risen Lord regardless of what it might cost him.
As a Pharisee, Paul acknowledges the resurrection, and angels and the world of the spirit. I myself might be what could be called a Christian Pharisee in that regard. I believe in the Resurrection and in angels, and in the Holy Spirit and in the spirits of those who have gone before us. All of this belief comes from first believing in the love of an eternal and loving God.
I have found that pondering about this life and the next is having a profound effect on how I live my life day to day. Yesterday was the celebration of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis basically forfeited his earthly life with all its attractions and diversions in order that he might be totally devoted to God. I am not there yet. But I have become aware of the language I use. I say things like, “my car, my phone, and my house,” rather than the car, the phone and the house that I make use of. The only thing that is mine to keep is my soul, I hope.
I don’t think Francis considered himself a Pharisee but he was a pious man. Pondering about the resurrection, angels and spirits is challenging. It makes me aware of my relationships with others, past and present. How might I have a more loving tolerance of others? What accountability awaits me in the next life? I realize now that when I learn something new about fairness with others, God knows that I just learned it and is expecting me to live into my new understanding from that point on. My sincere belief and my understanding of the scriptures and the prophets, as they are revealed to me through the Risen Lord, are improving me. I need, more and more, to listen to what the Holy Spirit of God in Christ Jesus is saying to me. How about you?
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John