Taking the Measure of a Person, of a Community
Are we really ready for God's judgment?
The psalm reminds us, and all the advantaged, that God's eye and attention are first and foremost focused on the poor, and those in need. The standard we are called to live into? Not so much the pursuit of holiness, but rather a righteousness born of a zeal for justice. Easy enough to say, harder to practice....
...and an invitation to practice is what we hear from Jesus in Matthew. In his contention with the Pharisees, he calls out the people challenging him over the fact that as a proponent of God's teachings he fails to have them perform the most rudimentary chores of the holiness code, the washing of hands. Jesus turns their, and our, world upside down, saying that if God's creation is good, then nothing going into us can pollute. Even what flows through our natural digestive processes is organic. That filth goes down the sewer, but the pollution to avoid and repent of is the junk that comes out of our mouths. That stuff, the pollution of hearts, the signifiers of poor choices, the physical manifestations of our rejection of God's desire for justice and peace for all people is the stuff that stinks, stains and fouls our relationship with God and with each other.
Answer: he wouldn't and he doesn't; and yet the disciples continue to struggle with what it means to choose mercy over self-justification; service over privilege. So, we once more see the feeding of a multitude. See to the needs of humanity, says Jesus, if you want to manifest what the kingdom of God really looks like. It isn't found in purity, or in the sham avoidance of prurience. It is revealed in how we treat each other, stranger and kinsfolk alike. It is embraced when we set aside pride and certainty, and embrace humility and the awareness that God is not just some set pattern of codes to keep from the past, but a dynamic, revelatory Creator who is involved and invested in our choices today, in whom we choose to serve and love....today.