Daily Office Readings for Monday of Proper 15: Year 1
“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 our Risen Lord Jesus selected Saul/Paul because he was born and raised a Pharisee. The Pharisee believed in the resurrection, in angels, and in the Holy Spirit.
The scribes of the Pharisees then asked a very important question; we read, “Then a great clamor arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees’ group stood up and contended, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” (Acts 23:9). This is what we all should be asking ourselves today if and when, we hear someone witnessing an experience beyond what scripture reveals, and beyond our limited understanding of what God wants of us and what God is doing in our very midst.
Even the asking of the question by the scribes is some evidence that the Holy Spirit of God is at work in the human situation. But the stubbornness of some will not make room for the Spirit to work. The dissension became violent and the soldiers had to intervene. Even the intervention of the tribunes might have been a way in which God was acting.
I found that when I went to The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem in 2018, there was dissension among the various Christian Churches about how to divide up the times each would have for worship in this sacred Church building. They gave authority to a Muslim family to manage which Church would worship and when. So for just over 500 years now descendants of a Muslim family still manages which Christian Church worships at what time. An outside family acts as God’s regulatory hand amidst the dissension.
I pray today for God to use some of us in Afghanistan today as that country falls into chaos due to the U.S. withdrawal. This is happening right now as I am writing this blog. I pray to God for protection for the women and all who might fall prey to the violence of the Taliban. Love and compassion must prevail. I also pray for the people of Haiti as they are faced with natural disaster. Love and compassion sometimes must come from outside to do God’s work of love.
Let us live to love, serve and teach, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying through the saints and to us, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John